• African Broadbill

    Posted on December 2, 2012 by Gavin in Birding in Hluhluwe, Birds, Day Trips, Hiking Trails.

    Smithornis capensis

    English: African Broadbill

    Afrikaans:  Breëbek


    Kingdom: Animalia

    Phylum: Chordata

    Class: Aves

    Order: Passeriformes

    Family: Eurylaimidae

    Genus: Smithornis

    Species: S. capensis


    With a very broad bill, black cap and heavy streaking below, this bird is unmistakable. It also has a conspicuous white patch on its back which is exposed in flight. Juveniles are buff above and females have a grey crown and streaked with black.

    Distribution & Habitat:

    The African Broadbill occurs mainly in South-central and Southern Africa. It has populations dispersed across northern Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and KwaZulu-Natal. This bird prefers coastal evergreen or lowland forest, deciduous thickets or dense woodland. It is normally quiet and inconspicuous, perching low down and hawking its food.


    It is locally common but highly inconspicuous often remaining motionless on its perch for long periods of time. Not globally threatened but it has been affected by deforestation in Kwazulu Natal and Mozambique.

    Breading and Rearing:

    During courtship the male and female Broadbill face each other on a horizontal branch and flick their wings while changing between perching and hanging positions. Both sexes build an oval-shaped nest of leaves, bark and fibre that is suspended from a small branch only a few feet from the ground. The nest has a side entrance with a chamber in the middle that is lined with fibres where it lays 1-3 eggs between October and February. The eggs are incubated solely by the females for 16-17 days while the male stays outside the nest alerting the female of any danger with a high pitched call.


    This bird is usual quiet and inconspicuous, perching low down where it searches for food. It has a very curious elliptical flight display that it performs from a perch producing a trilling call while in flight and exposing the white ‘puffball’ on its back.

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