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Black-capped Donacobius

From Opus

Nominate subspeciesPhoto © by BananafishbonesSan Pablo Marshes, Venezuela, 16 March 2012
Nominate subspecies
Photo © by Bananafishbones
San Pablo Marshes, Venezuela, 16 March 2012

Alternative names: Black-capped Mockingthrush; Black-capped Mockingwren

Donacobius atricapilla


[edit] Identification

Juvenile, nominate subspeciesPhoto © by Rosmo01Pantanal, Brazil, 19 November 2013
Juvenile, nominate subspecies
Photo © by Rosmo01
Pantanal, Brazil, 19 November 2013

21-22cm (8¼-8¾ in)

  • Shiny black head and shoulders
  • Brown back
  • Olive brown rump
  • Black tail with white tips
  • Blackish wings with white flash
  • Yellow underparts, black bars on its side
  • Bright yellow eyes
  • Dusky green legs
  • Yellow distendable cheek pouch

Juvenile is more dusky, has darker eye, and shows a white line behind the eye.

[edit] Variation

Nominate atricapilla is larger and lacks evident barring on its flanks. Subspecies albovittatus shows the white postocular line in all ages. Subspecies nigrodorsalis has black back.

[edit] Distribution

The Black-capped Donacobius ranges from eastern Panama to Colombia and the Guianas to northern Bolivia, Paraguay and north-eastern Argentina.

[edit] Taxonomy

Formerly classified variously as a thrush, thrasher or wren, this unique bird is now placed in its own family, the Donacobiidae believed to be allied with certain Old World warblers.

[edit] Subspecies

Subspecies nigrodorsalisPhoto © by Luis R FigueroaLa Rioja Wetlands, San Martín, Peru, 25 March 2018
Subspecies nigrodorsalis
Photo © by Luis R Figueroa
La Rioja Wetlands, San Martín, Peru, 25 March 2018

There are 4 subspecies[1]:

  • D. a. brachypterus :
  • D. a. nigrodorsalis:
  • D. a. atricapilla:
  • D. a. albovittatus:
  • Eastern Bolivia (Beni, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz); adjacent Brazil?

[edit] Habitat

Grass or marsh surrounding pools, lakes and rivers in lowlands.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Breeding

The nest is an open cup always with a close relationship to water (near or over). Eggs are a purplish white with reddish or purplish spots and blotches. The female incubates the eggs for 16-18 days. Both sexes, with the assistance of young from a previous, year feed the chicks.

[edit] Diet

Almost exclusively invertebrates including hymenopterans, beetles (Coleoptera), orthopterans, and neuropterans.

[edit] Vocalisations

This species is famous for duetting antiphonally, each member of a pair singing different parts of a combined song. Bare yellow skin on the sides of its neck form air sacs inflated during song. Male gives a series of loud, ringing upward-slurred liquid whistles. Sometimes described as sounding like a "car alarm."

[edit] Movements


[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  3. Birdforum thread discussing a juvenile of this species
  4. Black-capped Donacobius (Donacobius atricapilla), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:
  5. Kroodsma, D. & Brewer, D. (2019). Donacobius (Donacobius atricapilla). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 1 July 2019).

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