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Capuchin Babbler - BirdForum Opus

Phyllanthus atripennis


With 21 - 24cm a stout, chunky and short-tailed Babbler from Africa1:

  • Blackish-maroon plumage (more rufous in bohndorffi)
  • Grey head
  • Creamy-yellow bill


Patchily distributed in West and Central Africa. Found in the Gambia and Senegal, south to Liberia, then from the Ivory Coast east to Nigeria (very local) and W Cameroon. Furthermore in C Africa in the S of the Central African Republic, NE Democratic Republic of Congo and W Uganda.
Local, but common in parts of its range and not globaly threatened. Records in Mali doubtful.1


Clements2 accepts three subspecies:

Other authorities1 regard haynesi as junior synonym of rubiginosus and replace it.
Clements places this species now in genus Turdoides.


Undergrowth, dense thickets, lush streamside growth in broadleaf evergreen forest. Also primary mountain forest, secondary forest and secondary growth, sometimes in well-wooded gardens.


Does usually keep to the darkest, thickest parts of the vegetation. Found in noisy flocks of 4 - 12 birds, sometimes in pairs. Often together with other species like Blackcap Babbler.
Feeds on invertebrates, including ants. Takes also small amphibians and seeds.
Breeding season differs through range, seems to breed all year in DRC. The nest is a large and untidy cup, made of moss and dead leaves and placed in sapling, bush or oil palm, 3 - 4.5m above the ground. Lays 2 pale blue eggs. Brood parasitism by Levaillant's Cuckoo reported.
Resident species.1


  1. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2007. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553422
  2. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9., with updates to August 2014. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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