Shrikeflycatcher

Megabyas flammulatus

SUBFAMILY

Platysteirinae

TAXONOMY

Megabyas flammulata Verreaux, 1855. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: African shrike-flycatcher; French: Gobemouche écorcheur; German: Schnäpperwürger; Spanish: Atrapamoscas Africano.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The body length is about 6 in (15 cm). The iris is bright orange. The male is colored glossy black on the head, back, wings, and tail, and white on the rump, underparts, and under-wings. The female and immature are brownish, and their breast is brown-streaked on white.

DISTRIBUTION

A widespread, nonmigratory species of central tropical Africa. HABITAT

Occurs in lowland, humid, primary and mature secondary tropical forest, as well as the forested edges of clearings. It occurs as high as about 7,000 ft (2,150 m)

BEHAVIOR

A nonmigratory species that occurs in pairs or small groups. Breeding birds defend a territory. Sits quietly on a perch, often swinging its tail slowly sideways. The song is a sustained series of repetitive phrases.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Searches actively or from a perch for flying insects in the lower part of the forest canopy. Insects are also gleaned from foliage. Sometimes joins mixed-species foraging flocks.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Builds a small cup-shaped nest in a narrow fork of a branch. Lays two or three, greenish-gray, mottled eggs that are incubated for at least 16 days. Pairs are monogamous but are probably helped with their breeding by their immature progeny.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. An endemic species that is locally abundant in parts of its range.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

None known, except for the economic benefits of bird-watching. ♦

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