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Wattle-eyes and batises
Brown-throated wattle-eye
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Superfamily: Corvoidea
Sundevall, 1872


Platysteiridae is a family of small, stout passerine birds of the African tropics. The family contains the wattle-eyes, batises and shrike-flycatchers. They were previously classed as a subfamily of the Old World flycatchers, Muscicapidae. These insect-eating birds are usually found in open forests or bush. They hunt by flycatching, or by taking prey from the ground like a shrike. The nest is a small neat cup, placed low in a tree or bush.

Passerine Any bird of the order Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds

A passerine is any bird of the order Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds or – less accurately – as songbirds, passerines are distinguished from other orders of birds by the arrangement of their toes, which facilitates perching.

Bird Warm-blooded, egg-laying vertebrates with wings, feathers and beaks

Birds, also known as Aves or avian dinosaurs, are a group of endothermic vertebrates, characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a strong yet lightweight skeleton. Birds live worldwide and range in size from the 5 cm (2 in) bee hummingbird to the 2.75 m (9 ft) ostrich. They rank as the world's most numerically-successful class of tetrapods, with approximately ten thousand living species, more than half of these being passerines, sometimes known as perching birds. Birds have wings which are more or less developed depending on the species; the only known groups without wings are the extinct moa and elephant birds. Wings, which evolved from forelimbs, gave birds the ability to fly, although further evolution has led to the loss of flight in flightless birds, including ratites, penguins, and diverse endemic island species of birds. The digestive and respiratory systems of birds are also uniquely adapted for flight. Some bird species of aquatic environments, particularly seabirds and some waterbirds, have further evolved for swimming.

Africa The second largest and second most-populous continent, mostly in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres

Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent, being behind Asia in both categories. At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.2 billion people as of 2016, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere.


Distribution and habitat

The Platysteiridae are arboreal birds, primarily of the woodlands and forests of sub-Saharan Africa. The family is restricted to mainland Africa and its offshore islands. The shrike-flycatchers and genus Dyaphorophyia are inhabitants of dense forest, while the rest of the wattle-eyes are found in woodland, and the batises range across all wooded habitats except the densest forests of the Congo Basin. The pririt and pygmy batis survive in very arid environments with some cover, and the white-fronted wattle-eye favours mangrove forests in Angola. Many species in the family have adapted to human-altered habitats. The family has its highest diversity at equatorial latitudes, with half the known species native to Tanzania and almost half also ranging into the DRC and Kenya.

Sub-Saharan Africa area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara Desert

Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all African countries that are fully or partially located south of the Sahara. It contrasts with North Africa, whose territories are part of the League of Arab states within the Arab world. The states of Somalia, Djibouti, Comoros and the Arabic speaking Mauritania are however geographically in sub-Saharan Africa, although they are members of the Arab League as well. The UN Development Program lists 46 of Africa’s 54 countries as “sub-Saharan,” excluding Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia.

Congo Basin basin of the Congo River in west equatorial Africa

The Congo Basin is the sedimentary basin of the Congo River. The Congo Basin is located in Central Africa, in a region known as west equatorial Africa. The Congo Basin region is sometimes known simply as the Congo.

Pririt batis species of bird

The pririt batis also known as the pririt puff-back flycatcher or pririt puffback, is a small passerine bird in the wattle-eye family. It is resident in Southern Africa and southwestern Angola.

The family is overwhelmingly sedentary. However, there are a few exceptions; the African shrike-flycatcher is probably an intra-African migrant, as it is seasonally absent from parts of its range. In addition, some batis species undertake seasonal migrations, besides some local movements in response to changing local conditions.

In cultural anthropology, sedentism is the practice of living in one place for a long time. As of 2018, the majority of people belong to sedentary cultures. In evolutionary anthropology and archaeology, sedentism takes on a slightly different sub-meaning, often applying to the transition from nomadic society to a lifestyle that involves remaining in one place permanently. Essentially, sedentism means living in groups permanently in one place.

African shrike-flycatcher species of bird

The African shrike-flycatcher is a species of bird in the Vangidae family. It is monotypic within the genus Megabyas. It is found in Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.

Bird migration seasonal movement of birds

Bird migration is the regular seasonal movement, often north and south along a flyway, between breeding and wintering grounds. Many species of bird migrate. Migration carries high costs in predation and mortality, including from hunting by humans, and is driven primarily by availability of food. It occurs mainly in the northern hemisphere, where birds are funneled on to specific routes by natural barriers such as the Mediterranean Sea or the Caribbean Sea.


The wattles above the eyes of this common wattle-eye are used in communication Brownthroatedwattleeyemale.jpg
The wattles above the eyes of this common wattle-eye are used in communication

The Platysteiridae are small to medium-sized passerines. They have short legs and an upright stance while perched. The tail length is variable, with the Dyaphorophyia wattle-eyes and batises having short tails and the Platysteria wattle-eyes and shrike-flycatchers possessing longish tails. The bill is flat and hooked at the tip, and generally wide with well-developed rictal bristles. With the exception of a few batises, the plumage of the family is sexually dimorphic. Overall the family has white undersides and dark, speckled upperparts, with many species sporting a band across the chest. A few wattle-eyes depart from this pattern and possess brightly coloured plumage. The plumage on the back of some genera are erectile, giving the family the alternative name of puffback flycatchers. The irides of batises and the black-and-white shrike-flycatcher are brightly coloured and used in communication, becoming more brightly coloured when the adults are excited. In the wattle-eyes the supra-orbital wattles above the eyes, for which they are named, are used in communication. In addition the family is highly vocal, with a repertoire that includes a range of whistles, harsh calls and duets.

The beak, bill, and/or rostrum is an external anatomical structure of birds that is used for eating and for preening, manipulating objects, killing prey, fighting, probing for food, courtship and feeding young. The terms beak and rostrum are also used to refer to a similar mouth part in some ornithischians, pterosaurs, turtles, cetaceans, dicynodonts, anuran tadpoles, monotremes ,sirens, pufferfish, billfishes and cephalopods.

Plumage pattern, colour, and arrangement of a birds layer of feathers

Plumage refers both to the layer of feathers that cover a bird and the pattern, colour, and arrangement of those feathers. The pattern and colours of plumage differ between species and subspecies and may vary with age classes. Within species, there can be different colour morphs. The placement of feathers on a bird is not haphazard, but rather emerge in organized, overlapping rows and groups, and these feather tracts are known by standardized names.

Black-and-white shrike-flycatcher species of bird

The black-and-white shrike-flycatcher, also known as the black-and-white flycatcher or vanga flycatcher, is a species of passerine bird found in Africa. It was placed with the wattle-eyes and batises in the family Platysteiridae but is now considered to be more closely related to the helmetshrikes and woodshrikes.


The most important component in the diet of all species is insects, although spiders, millipedes and scorpions are also taken, and there are even records of small lizards being consumed. Amongst the insect prey, a number of different types are eaten; beetles, grasshoppers and other Orthoptera, flies, mosquitoes, wasps, termites, mantises and others all being recorded. Members of this family forage either individually or in family groups. Some species will also join mixed species feeding flocks, a technique that has been shown to confer some foraging advantages. [1] The different species and genera use a variety of methods to obtain prey, ranging from foliage-gleaning to flycatching.

Insect class of invertebrates

Insects or Insecta are hexapod invertebrates and the largest group within the arthropod phylum. Definitions and circumscriptions vary; usually, insects comprise a class within the Arthropoda. As used here, the term Insecta is synonymous with Ectognatha. Insects have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body, three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes and one pair of antennae. Insects are the most diverse group of animals; they include more than a million described species and represent more than half of all known living organisms. The total number of extant species is estimated at between six and ten million; potentially over 90% of the animal life forms on Earth are insects. Insects may be found in nearly all environments, although only a small number of species reside in the oceans, which are dominated by another arthropod group, crustaceans.

Orthoptera order of insects (Insecta) including grasshoppers, crickets, weta and locusts

Orthoptera is an order of insects that comprises the grasshoppers, locusts and crickets, including closely related insects such as the katydids and wetas. The order is subdivided into two suborders: Caelifera – grasshoppers, locusts and close relatives; and Ensifera – crickets and close relatives.

Conservation and threats

One species, the banded wattle-eye, is considered threatened by human activities. The species has a restricted range in Cameroon which is vulnerable to forest clearance, and it is listed as endangered by the IUCN. [2] Two other species are considered near-threatened, the Gabon batis and the white-fronted wattle-eye; both species are threatened by habitat loss. Some species are also very poorly known, and one species, the dark batis, was only identified as a species in 2006. [3]

The banded wattle-eye is a species of bird in the family Platysteiridae. It is endemic to the Bamenda Highlands in western Cameroon. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Cameroon Republic in West Africa

Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon, is a country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west and north; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the Bight of Biafra, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. Although Cameroon is not an ECOWAS member state, it is geographically and historically in West Africa with the Southern Cameroons which now form her Northwest and Southwest Regions having a strong West African history. The country is sometimes identified as West African and other times as Central African due to its strategic position at the crossroads between West and Central Africa.

Endangered species Species of organisms facing a very high risk of extinction

An endangered species is a species which has been categorized as very likely to become extinct. Endangered (EN), as categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, is the second most severe conservation status for wild populations in the IUCN's schema after Critically Endangered (CR).

Platysteiridae in taxonomic order

Related Research Articles

The Sibley-Monroe checklist was a landmark document in the study of birds. It drew on extensive DNA-DNA hybridisation studies to reassess the relationships between modern birds.

<i>Batis</i> (bird) genus of birds

Batis is a genus of passerine birds in the wattle-eye family. Its species are resident in Africa south of the Sahara. They were previously classed as a subfamily of the Old World flycatcher family, Muscicapidae.

White-tailed shrike species of bird

The white-tailed shrike is a small passerine bird from the family Platysteiridae. It is also commonly known as the chatshrike. It occurs only in western Angola and Namibia in thorn scrub. It forages from ground level, where it hops about in large bounds and upright posture, to 25m above ground, scanning for insects. The very short tail, with a small black mark at the tip of the central two feathers, is always carried down, never sticking up. Its range of calls includes loud ringing territorial whistles.

Rwenzori batis species of bird

The Rwenzori batis is an endemic bird native to the Albertine Rift montane forests, where it inhabits altitudes of 1,340–3,300 m (4,400–10,830 ft).

Woodwards batis species of bird

Woodward's batis, also Woodwards' batis and Zululand batis, is a species of small bird in the wattle-eyes family, Platysteiridae. It occurs in south-eastern Africa where it is found in woodlands and forests.

The Ituri batis or Chapin's batis is a species of bird in the wattle-eye family, Platysteiridae which is found in the humid forests of eastern central Africa.

Margarets batis species of bird

Margaret's batis or Boulton's batis is a species of small passerine bird in the wattle-eyes family, Platysteiridae. It is found in south western central Africa.

Eastern black-headed batis species of bird

The eastern black-headed batis is a passerine bird in the Platysteiridae family from eastern Africa. It was formerly treated as conspecific with the western black-headed batis.

Forest batis species of bird

The forest batis or short-tailed batis is a species of bird in the wattle-eye family, Platysteiridae occurring in eastern Africa.

Chinspot batis species of bird

The chinspot batis is a small songbird of the genus Batis in the family Platysteiridae which is a common and widespread species in the woodlands of southern Africa from the Eastern Cape north to 3°N in southern Kenya and Gabon. It forms a superspecies with other rather similar members of the genus Batis.

Pygmy batis species of bird

The pygmy batis is a very small insectivorous bird which finds its food foraging among leaves, it is a member of the wattle-eyes family, the Platysteiridae. It occurs in the dry savannahs of north-eastern Africa.

Fernando Po batis species of bird

The Fernando Pó batis, also known as the Bioko batis, is a species of bird in the family Platysteiridae. It is endemic to the island of Bioko in Equatorial Guinea.

Senegal batis species of bird

The Senegal batis is a species of small passerine bird in the wattle-eyes family, Platysteiridae. It occurs in western Africa where it is found in dry savanna and subtropical or tropical dry shrubland. It was originally given the binomial name Muscicapa senegalensis by Carl Linnaeus in 1766.

<i>Dryoscopus</i> genus of birds

Dryoscopus is a genus of bird in the Malaconotidae or bushshrike family. The six species of fairly uniform appearance and habits, are all native to various parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The name Dryoscopus is a compound Greek word: drus from the Greek word for "tree" and skopos, meaning "watcher or lookout".

The dark batis is a small passerine bird belonging to the genus Batis in the wattle-eye family, Platysteiridae. It is found in highland forest in south-west Tanzania and northern Malawi. These birds were formerly thought to be forest batises but in 2006 were described as a new species based on differences in morphology and mitochondrial DNA from those birds in northern Tanzania and Kenya.


  1. Thomson RL & Ferguson JWH (2007) "Composition and foraging behaviour of mixed-species flocks in two adjacent African woodland habitats: a spatial and temporal perspective" Ostrich78(1): 65-73
  2. BirdLife International (2007) Species factsheet: Platysteira laticincta Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/2/2008
  3. Fjeldsa J, Bowie RCK, Kiure J (2006) "The forest batis, Batis mixta, is two species: description of a new, narrowly distributed Batis species in the Eastern Arc biodiversity hotspot" Journal of Ornithology147(4): 578-590