Crossleys babbler

Mystacornis crossleyi

SUBFAMILY

Timaliinae

TAXONOMY

Bernieria crossleyi Grandidier, 1870, Madagascar. Monotypic. Position within family unclear.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Mystacornis; German: Mystacornis.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

6.3 in (16 cm). Compact-bodied, with relatively long bill. Sexes strongly dimorphic. Male distinguished by black throat and gray crown, while female's white throat and brown crown gives it a markedly different appearance. Both sexes have a broad white malar stripe ("moustache"), far more noticeable in male, as well as black band through eye, and small white spot above eye. Mantle, wings, and tail brown, belly gray, off-white under-tail coverts. Eyes dark.

DISTRIBUTION

Eastern Madagascar.

HABITAT

Understory of primary evergreen humid forests. BEHAVIOR

Found either individually or in family units. Adult males do not tolerate the presence of others, and respond aggressively to others' vocalizations. (Unlike many other babblers, fledged juveniles do not resemble adults, but are instead uniform rufous.)

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Walks around on forest floor, in fairly open places, looking for insects.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous. Cup-shaped nest built from twigs, close to the ground.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened, but habitat dependent. Range includes several reserves.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS A target species for ecotourists. ♦

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