Blue cuckooshrike

Coracina azurea

TAXONOMY

Graucalus azureus Cassin, 1852, Sierra Leone. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Echenilleur bleu; German: Azurraupenfanger; Spanish: Oruguero Azul Africano.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

8.5 in (21.5 cm); 1.5-1.8 oz (43-51 g). Bright blue plumage with black mask, flight feathers, and tail. Eyes red. Female has duller, green-blue forehead and wings.

DISTRIBUTION

Sierra Leone, Liberia, southwest Cote d'lvoire, south Ghana and south Nigeria to southwest Cameroon, Gabon, southwest Central African Republic, north and central DRC and northwest Angola.

HABITAT

Canopy of lowland primary and secondary forest; also open woodland and sometimes clearings.

BEHAVIOR

Territorial. Unobtrusive and easily overlooked despite its bright blue color, but its powerful "peeeoo" calls advertise its presence. It joins mixed-species bird parties.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Eats caterpillars, grasshoppers, termites, beetles, snails, and occasionally small fruit. Forages like a flycatcher, snatching prey in the air and from foliage; also gleans.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous. Breeds November-March, when rainfall is relatively low. Nest is a loose bowl of lichens and spider webs on a horizontal tree branch.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. Its known range is fragmented, and it has suffered considerably from habitat destruction. In the 1980s, it was still locally frequent to common in some parts of its range.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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