Thursday, 17 May 2012

Brown-crowned tchagra

Tchagra australis

Photo by Troy Hibbitts (The Hibbitts)

Common name:
brown-crowned tchagra (en); picanço-assobiador-de-coroa-castanha (pt); tchagra à tête brune (fr); chagra coroniparda (es); dorntschagra (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Malaconotidae

This species is found in sub-Saharan Africa, from Guinea and Sierra Leone to southern Sudan and Kenya, and south to Namibia, Botswana and northern South Africa. Within this region they are only absent form the more dense rainforests of the Congo basin.

These birds are 17-18 cm long and weigh 33-36 g.

The brown-crowned tchagra is mostly found in dry savannas and dry scrublands, but also in dry tropical forests, second growths, arable land and rural gardens. They may occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.500 m.

They mostly eat adult and larval insects, which they hunt on the ground or from the base of plants. They are know to take Orthoptera, Lepidoptera, Coleoptera and Mantodea and very occasionally small vertebrates.

Brown-crowned tchagras breed in September-March. They are monogamous, solitary nesters, with both sexes building the nest, a shallow cup made of rootlets, fine twigs, coarse grass and leaf stems, cemented with spider web. the nest is usually placed in a fork or horizontal branch of a bush, well concealed by foliage. The female lays 2-4 eggs, which she mostly incubates alone for 14-17 days, while receiving food from the male. The chicks fledge 13-16 days after hatching, but remain with their parents for another 5 months.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as locally common. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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