This rare, attractive bird has a distinctive chestnut coloured forehead, contrasting with the grey plumage on the rest of the upperparts. The wing and tail feathers are a darker slate grey. The chin and throat are white and are divided from the pale grey belly by a black band across the neck. A blackish streak extends through the eye and the bill is also black (2). There are two subspecies of the Turner’s eremomela; Eremomela turneri kalindei is paler than Eremomela turneri turneri and has a brown tinge to the upperparts (2). Juvenile Turner’s eremomelas are rather different in appearance, with olive-brown plumage above, pale yellow plumage below, and they lack the distinct chestnut on head and black band on the throat (2).
Turner’s eremomela inhabits forest, up to around 1,700 metres above sea level (2). It is often found in the canopy of large trees, showing a preference for Croton megalocarpus, but can also be found along streams, at forest edges, and in clearings (2)(3).
As the Turner’s eremomela occurs in only a few small areas, it is very vulnerable to the habitat destruction and degradation that is taking place in the region (3). Kakamega and South Nandi Forests in Kenya are threatened by the encroachment of agriculture (both cultivation and cattle-grazing), uncontrolled logging and charcoal-making (3). South Nandi Forest in particular is being impacted by commercial logging; not only is it undertaken in a destructive manner, but it is targeting Croton megalocarpus, a preferred tree of the Turner’s eremomela (3). In the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda the Turner’s eremomela is considered rare, but little else is known about its status (2).
The northern part of Kakamega Forest has been declared a national park and another small area of the forest has been set aside as a national reserve (2), measures which will offer some protection to the habitat of the Turner’s eremomela’s. A group of local guides in Kakamega Forest have also initiated a programme of environmental education and awareness activities. However, effective conservation of both Kakamega and South Nandi Forests are still lacking, and commercial logging continues despite a ban on the logging of indigenous trees in Kenya (3). Major conservation projects are required to ensure the protection of these forests in Kenya, including enforcing the ban on logging indigenous trees, which will help secure the eremomela’s future (3).
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