Friday, 4 April 2014

Swynnerton's robin

Swynnertonia swynnertoni

Photo by Francois du Plessis (Outdoor Photo)

Common name:
Swynnerton's robin (en); pisco-de-peitilho (pt); rougegorge de Swynnerton (fr); ruiseñor de Swynnerton (es); swynnertonrötel (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Muscicapidae

This African species is is restricted to a few mountains in eastern Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Tanzania, namely at Chirinda and a few other tiny forest patches along the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique, in Mount Gorongosa and Mount Mabu in northern Mozambique, and in the Udzungwa Mountains and the East Usambara Mountains in Tanzania.

These birds are 13-14 cm long and weigh 14-20 g.

The Swynnerton's robn is mostly found in the understorey of mountain rainforests, also using lowland rainforests in Tanzania. They prefer dense undergrowth with a high density of saplings, or rank growth near streams. This species is present at altitudes of 150-1.850 m.

They feed mainly on beetles, namely Buprestidae, Carabidae, Curculionidae, Elateridae and Scarabidae, but also take flies, wasps, bees, ants, spiders, millipedes and small frogs. fruits are also taken sometimes. They often catch prey fleeing from swarms of African driver ants Anomma wilverthi.

These birds breed in October-December. The nest is an open cup made of dead leaves, tendrils, rootlets, moss and leaf midribs, lined with dark plant fibres, and typically placed at the base of a dragon-tree Dracaena leaf, in a hollow of a tree stump, a forked stem of a scrub or on a platform formed by interlaced liana stems, up to 2 m above the ground. There the female lays 2-3 blue-green eggs with brown spots and blotches, which she incubates alone for 14-16 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 14 days after hatching.

IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a relatively small and very patchy breeding range. The global population is estimated at 2.500-10.000 individuals and is suspected to be declining, owing primarily to habitat clearance, degradation and disturbance across its range. The main causes for habitat loss and degradations are pole-cutting, firewood-collection, cultivation, clearance for new settlements, illegal pit-saw logging, gold mining, spread of non-native plants and uncontrolled fires. Conservation actions include protection areas, forest restoration and creation of corridors to link existing forest patches.

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