African green broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri)
|Also known as:||Grauer’s broadbill|
|French:||Eurylaime de Grauer|
|Size||Length: 13.6 – 15.6 cm (2)|
|Weight||29 – 32.5 g (2)|
The African green broadbill is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).
A rare and beautiful bird, the African green broadbill was first discovered in 1908 and then not seen again for the next twenty years (3). It is a small, plump bird, with bright grass-green plumage, and a pale blue tinge to the throat, breast, base of the short tail and the feathers covering the ears. The forehead is buff, finely streaked with black, and a narrow black stripe runs through the eyes. The wide, flattened and slightly hooked bill is black, as are its claws (2) (3).
The African green broadbill is known from only three locations; the Itombwe Mountains and Mount Kahuzi in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.), and the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in western Uganda (2).
The African green broadbill inhabits montane primary forests, showing a preference for the forest edge, near clearings or open fields (3), between 1,760 and 2,480 meters (2). There appears to be some differences between the D.R.C. and Uganda populations; in the D.R.C it favours the upper branches of tall trees, while in Uganda it is more frequently found in the forest understorey (2).
The African green broadbill appears to have a widely varied diet, consisting of invertebrates such as small beetles, snails and insect larvae; and vegetable matter including small seeds, flowers, flower buds and fruits (2). It searches for food singly or in small flocks of up to ten birds (2). It will sit motionless on a perch, and then make quick short dashes back and forth after its insect prey, flying with vigorous regular wing beats, but achieving no great speed (3). The African green broadbill has also been seen climbing, like a woodpecker, up vertical branches and on the underside of horizontal limbs searching for invertebrate prey (2).
The nest of the African green broadbill is a remarkable structure; a ball woven from twigs, leaves and rootlets (4), 20 to 25 centimetres wide, with a side entrance (2). Layers of green lichen adorn the outside, and it is hung from a near inaccessible tree branch (2). Other information about its breeding is limited. Adult African green broadbills have been found in breeding condition in July and August, a fledged young was seen being fed by an adult in March, and a nest of chicks was found in April (2).
The African green broadbill inhabits a volatile area, much of which is threatened by deforestation and habitat degradation (5). Forests in the Itombwe Mountains and surrounding Mount Kahuzi are under increasing pressure from rapidly rising human populations; an influx of Rwandan refugees in 1994 and rebel soldiers from 1997 resulted in widespread forest clearance for agriculture and hunting (5) (6). The year 2000 also saw a rush for the valuable industrial mineral coltan, which attracted more than 10,000 miners to the Kahuz-Biéga National Park in which Mount Kahuzi lies, and led to drastic deforestation and poaching (6).
The African green broadbill occurs in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which, unlike the Kahuz-Biéga National Park, is well protected. The third location in which the broadbill is found, the Itombwe Mountains, is not protected and faces many threats (5). Surveys are required to determine the distribution and status of the African green broadbill (5), but at present, the situation is too dangerous in the region to conduct any research (6).
For further information on the African green broadbill see:
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- Invertebrate: animals with no backbone.
- Larvae: stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
- Primary forests: forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
IUCN Red List (September, 2007)
- del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2003) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol.8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
- Rockefeller, J.S. and Murphy, C.B.G. (1933) The Rediscovery of Pseudocalyptomena. Auk, 50: 23 - 29.
- Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
BirdLife International (October, 2007)
UNEP-WCMC: World Heritage Sites (October, 2007)