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Discover the Fascinating World of the African Broadbill

The African Broadbill is a small bird species commonly found in the tropical forests of Africa. Their distinct colors and unique features make them stand out among other birds in their family.

This article aims to provide readers with an in-depth understanding of the bird by discussing its identification, plumages, and molts. Identification:

Field Identification – African Broadbills are small, with an average length of 10cm and weighing around 10g.

They have a round body shape, short tail, and a broad bill that is flattened on the sides. Their main colors are green and yellow, with a black and white pattern on their wings.

Females are slightly duller in color and have a smaller bill. Similar Species – The African Broadbill can be easily distinguished from other bird species based on its unique features.

However, some bird species that can be mistaken for the broadbill are the African Green Broadbill and the Yellow-whiskered Greenbul. Both species have similar color patterns and body shapes but lack the broad and flattened bill.


African Broadbills have two main plumages, breeding, and non-breeding. During the breeding season, the males exhibit brighter colors than the females.

The male’s head and upperparts are a yellow-green shade, with a black mask covering the face and throat. The underside is a bright yellow.

In contrast, females have a duller yellow-green color on their head and upperparts and a lighter yellow shade on their underside. Non-breeding plumage is similar for both sexes, with duller colors than the breeding plumage.


The African Broadbill has a complete molt where all its feathers are shed. The juveniles have a post-juvenile molt, which occurs immediately after their first flight.

After that, they retain the same plumage as adults. Molts usually occur outside the breeding season, typically from July to November.

The birds will grow new feathers, which will take a few weeks to develop completely. In conclusion, the African Broadbill is a small but distinctive bird species found in the forests of Africa.

Its unique features and color patterns make it an interesting subject for bird-watchers and nature enthusiasts. Understanding the African Broadbill’s identification, plumages, and molts will help bird-watchers spot them more efficiently and appreciate their beauty.

, as the purpose is to simply provide informative content about the African Broadbill. Systematics History:

The African Broadbill, also known as Smithornis capensis, belongs to the family Eurylaimidae.

The family is composed of small, brightly colored birds found in tropical forests around the world. The African Broadbill is closely related to other broadbills found in Asia and South America, and they share similar characteristics in their anatomy and behavior.

Geographic Variation:

The African Broadbill can be found in a wide range of habitats across Africa, from wet forests to dry savannas. Due to this geographic diversity, African Broadbills have shown considerable variation in terms of their morphology, vocalizations, and behavioral patterns.

Research has identified five different subspecies of the African Broadbill based on their geographic distribution. Subspecies:

The five subspecies of the African Broadbill can be differentiated based on their coloration, size, and distribution.

The nominate subspecies, S. c.

capensis, is the most widespread, found in southern and central Africa. It is slightly larger and brighter in color than the other subspecies.

S. c.

major, found in East Africa, is smaller and has a slightly darker coloration. S.

c. deplanatus, found in the Congo basin, has a greener back, with a less defined black-and-white pattern.

S. c.

landanae, found in West Africa, is smaller in size and has a yellow patch on the back of its head. Finally, S.

c. granti, found in Uganda and Tanzania, is the smallest subspecies, with a greener coloration on the underparts.

Related Species:

The African Broadbill is a member of the broadbill family, which includes other species found in Asia and South America. Despite being physically similar, these different species have been shown to have unique vocalizations and behavioral patterns.

The African Green Broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri) is a closely related species found in East Africa, which has similar color patterns to the African Broadbill, although it has a different beak structure and slightly different calls. Historical Changes to Distribution:

The African Broadbill’s distribution has undergone multiple changes throughout history due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

Much of the African Broadbill’s natural habitat has been destroyed due to deforestation caused by logging, agricultural expansion, and human settlements. This has led to the fragmentation of the bird’s range, making it harder for populations to interact, hindering interbreeding between different subspecies.

As a result of the destruction of natural habitats, many African Broadbill populations have become isolated, leading to the evolution of different subspecies. Some subspecies, such as S.

c. granti, have a limited distribution, and their populations are declining; they have become a species of conservation concern.

Despite the challenges to its survival, the African Broadbill is a resilient bird species, well-adapted to the habitats it finds itself in. Research has shown that the birds can tolerate some habitat modification, as long as there is sufficient habitat size and connectivity.

Conservation efforts to protect African Broadbill populations have been undertaken, with conservationists working to protect natural habitats and identify the species’ distribution and population trends. In conclusion, the African Broadbill is a fascinating bird species with an interesting history and adaptation to its environment.

Its geographic variation and different subspecies make it a subject of study for biologists and conservationists. The changes to its distribution caused by habitat loss emphasize the importance of conservation efforts to protect this and other species threatened by loss of habitat.

The African Broadbill’s survival is crucial, not only for its ecological role but also for the cultural significance it holds among the people of Africa who admire and identify with the species. , as the purpose is to simply provide informative content about the African Broadbill.


The African Broadbill can be found in a wide range of habitats across Africa, from wet forests to dry savannas. The bird prefers uninterrupted forests, particularly those near water sources.

In these habitats, African Broadbills can be found at different heights and levels, from the canopy to the undergrowth. Although African Broadbills prefer moist to wet habitats, they are also found in some dry habitats such as the acacia savannas in East Africa, where they thrive on the edges of rivers and streams.

Despite their preference for forested habitats, African Broadbills have been known to occur in habitat mosaics, agroforestry systems, and plantations. Movements and Migration:

The African Broadbill is a non-migratory bird species.

However, the breeding and non-breeding seasons are associated with different movements and behaviors. During the breeding season, males actively defend their territory and engage in nest building.

Females lay eggs in a well-camouflaged nest that they build on horizontally growing branches of tall trees. The male feeds the female while she incubates the eggs, and both parents take care of the hatchlings.

During the non-breeding season, African Broadbills move to areas with more food resources. During this time, they are less territorial and more widely dispersed across their range.

Young birds may disperse further to other regions, leading to a re-distribution of populations. Some African Broadbills have been recorded to undertake local movements of up to 10km, but this is rare.

The birds are generally sedentary, preferring to remain in the same area unless environmental conditions, particularly food availability, force them to move. Conservation:

The African Broadbill is considered to be a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

However, some of its subspecies, such as S. c.

granti, are of conservation concern due to their limited distribution and declining populations. Habitat destruction, fragmentation, and degradation are the primary threats facing African Broadbill populations.

These environmental changes often result in the loss of breeding and foraging resources, forcing the bird to disperse further or relocate to areas with more resources. The fragmentation of populations also leads to genetic isolation and the evolution of different subspecies, which further reduces the overall genetic diversity of the species.

Conservation efforts to protect African Broadbill populations are being undertaken, with conservationists working to protect natural habitats, identify and monitor populations, and encourage land use practices that reduce habitat degradation, fragmentation, and destruction. In conclusion, the African Broadbill is a unique bird species found in tropical forests across Africa.

Its habitat preferences and behavior make it a valuable indicator of forest health. Although non-migratory, African Broadbills undertake local movements associated with breeding and non-breeding seasons.

Threats facing the species, mainly habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation, highlight the need for conservation efforts to protect this and other bird species threatened by habitat loss. , as the purpose is to simply provide informative content about the African Broadbill.

Diet and Foraging:

African Broadbills are insectivorous birds known for their unique foraging methods. They usually feed on insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates.

To catch their prey, African Broadbills perch on trees and other vegetation, monitoring the air with their keen eyesight. When they see their prey, they maneuver to the desired spot and use their broad beaks to stab and crush the prey before swallowing it whole.

The birds are known to be slow in their foraging, taking their time to search for the right prey. They also forage alone or in pairs, and less frequently in mixed-species flocks.

They have a high metabolic rate that is thought to be an adaptation to their specialization in catching small prey. As small birds, African Broadbills have a high surface area to volume ratio, which makes it hard for them to retain body heat.

However, these birds have been observed to regulate their body temperature using microenvironmental heterothermy, which is the ability to maintain a constant body temperature despite changes in environmental temperature. Sounds and Vocal Behavior:

African Broadbills have a unique vocal repertoire that comprises different sounds that they use to communicate with each other.

They have been observed producing a diverse range of calls, songs, and vocalizations, each with a distinct meaning. Vocalizations:

African Broadbills are known to produce a range of sounds, including whistles, chirps, and rattles, that they use for communication.

Researchers have described their vocalizations as complex and diverse, with different calls used for a range of purposes. The most common call heard from African Broadbills is the ‘chip call’, a soft, short whistle that they produce while foraging.

Other vocalizations include ‘cheet-cheet-cheet’, which is used as a contact call between individuals, and the ‘churry’ call, which is given while perching. During the breeding season, African Broadbills produce a ‘song’, which consists of a sequence of notes usually given by males.

Their song can be described as a musical twitter, often given while perching, and usually has a falsetto quality. The song varies between subspecies, and juveniles may have a slightly different song from adults.

African Broadbills have an interesting vocal behavior, where the male performs a duet with its mate, producing calls in a synchronized timing. This duet is thought to be an essential part of their courtship ritual.

In conclusion, the African Broadbill is a unique bird species well-adapted to its environment. Its insectivorous diet and specialized foraging strategy make it an interesting subject for observations and research.

Its unique vocal repertoire and vocal behavior make it a fascinating subject of study as researchers seek to understand the species’ communication methods. The African Broadbill is an essential component of Africa’s biodiversity and highlights the significance of conservation efforts to protect this and other bird species.

, as the purpose is to simply provide informative content about the African Broadbill. Behavior:


The African Broadbill moves in a unique way, flying short distances between perches and hopping between branches or hanging foliage.

Its broad bill is adapted for perching and foraging in dense vegetation. It often follows a circular path, retracing its steps to backtrack for missed prey.


African Broadbills preen themselves regularly, keeping their feathers clean and in good condition. They use their bill to remove debris, straighten feathers, and spread oil from their uropygial gland to the feathers.

Birds also bathe regularly, either by rubbing their feathers against wet leaves or by perching on a branch above water and dipping their head and body into the water. Agonistic Behavior:

African Broadbills can be aggressive towards other birds when defending their territory or breeding grounds.

They use their beaks as weapons and have been observed to engage in physical fights and vocal threats to protect their areas. Sexual Behavior:

During the breeding season, African Broadbills engage in courtship behavior that includes display flights, vocalizations, and synchronized calls with their mate.

The males are responsible for nest building, and both parents take part in feeding and caring for young birds. Breeding:

African Broadbills typically breed during the rainy season, which varies depending on location.

The females lay one to two eggs in a well-camouflaged nest built on horizontal branches of tall trees. The eggs are incubated for around 14 days, and the young birds fledge after around 16 to 20 days.

Demography and Populations:

The African Broadbill is distributed widely across Africa, with a population of more than 500,000 individuals. However, the birds are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, which has led to a decline in the population of some subspecies, such as S.

c. granti.

Conservation efforts are being made to protect African Broadbill populations, including identifying and monitoring populations and protecting important habitats. Conserving forests and woodlands is crucial for the survival of the African Broadbill, as they rely on these habitats for breeding and foraging.

Further research also needs to be done to understand the factors that affect the productivity, survival, and population dynamics of African Broadbills. Such research will help in developing effective management strategies to ensure the long-term survival of these unique and fascinating bird species.

In conclusion, the African Broadbill is an interesting bird species, adapted to its environment in unique ways. Its behavior, including locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, and sexual behavior, highlights the diversity of bird behavior.

The bird’s breeding habits and the conservation efforts to protect populations emphasize the importance of preserving habitats for the survival of this and other species. The African Broadbill is a fascinating bird species found in tropical forests across Africa.

Its unique features, behavior, vocalizations, and reproductive strategy make it an interesting subject for biologists and conservationists alike. The bird’s diet and foraging techniques, vocalizations, and breeding behavior highlight the diversity of bird behavior and the importance of preserving natural habitats.

The threats to the African Broadbill’s survival from habitat loss and fragmentation emphasize the significance of conservation efforts to protect this and other bird species threatened by habitat loss. Therefore, it is crucial to pay attention to the conservation of this species to ensure that it continues to thrive and contribute to the ecosystem.

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