Copper-tailed Starling Hylopsar cupreocauda


Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Near Threatened because ongoing deforestation for agriculture and timber is suspected to be driving a moderately rapid population decline. Any evidence of a greater decline rate may qualify the species for a higher threat category.

Population justification
This species has been recorded at densities of 2-4 pairs/km2 in Liberia (Gatter 1997). Assuming that these densities persist throughout the range, and that it inhabits 20% of the forest within its range (311,000km2 [Global Forest Watch 2020]) the population size is estimated to be 248,000-497,600 mature individuals, placed here in the band 100,000-499,999 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and fragmentation.
Between 2000and 2019, this species's range experienced a loss of 21% in forest cover (Global Forest Watch 2020). This equates to a loss of 13% over three generations. Assuming the population declines at a similar rate, the rate of decline is placed in the band 1-15% over the past three generations. Between 2016 and 2019, the range experienced forest cover loss of 8.8% (Global Forest Watch 2020). Projected forward over three generations this equates to a loss of 29%. Assuming that the population declines at a similar rate to forest loss, the future rate of decline is suspected to fall in the band of 20-29% over three generations.

Distribution and population

This species is restricted to the Upper Guinea forests of West Africa, from southern Guinea through south-eastern Sierra Leone, Liberia (small numbers present throughout Cavalla Forest [Phalan et al. 2013]) and southern Côte d'Ivoire, to south-western Ghana (Dowsett and Forbes-Watson 1993; Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2014). There is a single unconfirmed sight record from Togo (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2009). It is generally common, with 2-4 pairs/km2 recorded in mature forest in Liberia (Gatter 1997). In Côte d'Ivoire, it is abundant in Taï National Park (M. Gartshore in litt. 1999), in 1985-1990, it was quite common in Yapo Forest (Demey and Fishpool 1994) and recently it was noted as fairly common in Mt Peko National Park (H. Rainey in litt. 2007). In Ghana it is found throughout the forest zone of the south-west, and often fairly common, but uncommon in the drier forests at the periphery (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2014), although previously only small flocks of 5-10 individuals were recorded (Holbech 1992, 1996).


It is a species of forest, forest edge, and gallery forest (Gatter 1997; H. Rainey in litt. 1999). It has been reported to benefit immediately following forest burning when some emergents remain, but to decline in secondary habitats thereafter (Gatter 1997), and can tolerate logging to some degree (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2009). It feeds on insects, figs, berries and other fruits and also frequently nectar (Fry et al. 2000; Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2014). The species nests in holes in dead trees and branches, and the clutch-size may be three. Observations suggest breeding activity between August and February (Fry et al. 2000).


Destruction of forest throughout its range, resulting from commercial logging and clearance for cultivation, is likely to be causing widespread declines.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species occurs in at least 4 National Parks (F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R. J. Dowsett in litt. 2016), including Taï National Park (M. Gartshore in litt. 1999) and Mt Peko National Park (H. Rainey in litt. 2007). In Ghana, it is found in Ankasa Wildlife Reserve and Kakum National Park (where it is common), but it is uncommon in Bia National Park (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2014).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to obtain a total population estimate. Monitor populations through regular surveys. Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation. Increase the area of suitable habitat with protected status.


Text account compilers
Clark, J.

Dowsett, R.J., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Gartshore, M.E., O'Brien, A., Rainey, H., Robertson, P., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Westrip, J.R.S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Hylopsar cupreocauda. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 07/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 07/12/2022.