Sunday, 12 June 2011

African dusky flycatcher

Muscicapa adusta

Photo by Robert Wienand (Flickr)

Common name:
African dusky flycatcher (en); papa-moscas-sombrio (pt); gobemouche sombre (fr); papamoscas oscuro (es); dunkelschnäpper (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Muscicapidae

This African species has an isolated population in Cameroon, but the bulk of its distribution lies from Ethiopia, through Kenya and Tanzania, to Zambia, southern DR Congo and south to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

African dusky flycatcher are 13 cm long and weigh 11 g.

It generally prefers fairly dense evergreen vegetation, such as clearings and edges of mountain and coastal lowland forest, gardens and parks, but also occurs in valley bushveld and floodplainwoodland along large rivers. It occasionally occupies miombo (Brachystegia and alien tree strands with Eucalyptus, pines Pinus, and wattles Acacia, especially on the border with fynbos.

These birds mainly eat small flying insects, doing most of their foraging from a low branch, from which they hawk prey aerially and occasionally pounce on insects on the ground. They are known to take beetles, syrphid wasps, midges, noctuid moths and their caterpillars, and aphids. They also eat the fruits of white-ironwood Vepris lanceolata and mulberries Morus.

African dusky flycatchers breed in September-January. Both sexes build the nest, an untidy open cup, usually built of dead leaves, moss, grass, lichens, creeper tendrils, feathers and spider web and lined with more fine material, although it can be made entirely out of moss. The nest is typically placed in a cavity, such as in a pipe, behind peeling bark, in a rock crevice, among driftwood, in a dead tree stump or between the rafters of a thatched roof. They may also use the nests of other birds. The female lays 2-3 eggs, which she incubates alone for about 14-15 days, while being fed by the male. The chicks are mainly brooded by the female but fed by both sexes, fledging 17-22 days after hatching. Each pair usually produces 2 clutches per season.

IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
Although the population size is unknown, this species is described as generally frequent to common over much of its very large breeding range, but scarce in Zambia and rare in Eritrea. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction, but the African dusky flycatcher is not considered threatened at present.

No comments:

Post a Comment