Colouring: Iris brown; bill black above, bluish white below; legs and feet purplish brown to dull red. Tail long, pointed; almost uniform brown; face black.
Voice: Harsh zik, zik alarm notes; sharp chee chee, chik chik, probably contact call.
Habitat: Bushveld, tangled thickets, edges of dense vegetation, gardens, orchards.
Distribution: Mainly in the southern and eastern parts of South Africa.
Habits: Usually gregarious in flocks of 5-20 birds. Flies fast and straight with rapid wingbeats alternating with stiff-winged glides; on landing, crashes into bush or tree. Hangs below perch; forages by clambering mouselike about branches. Roosts from just before sunset in bunches in bush or tree; departs just after sunrise. Dust-bathes frequently.
Food: Fruit, leaves, seeds, nectar; occassionally insects (mainly termites).
Breeding season: Mostly September to January, throughout South Africa.
Incubation and fledging: Clutch: 1-7 white or cream eggs. Incubation: 12-15 days by both sexes. Nestling: 17-18 days. Fed by regurgitation; parents eat faeces of young.
References: Gordon Lindsay Maclean: Roberts’ Birds of Southern Africa, Sixth Edition. 1993.
Kenneth Newman: Newman’s Birds by Colour. 2000.
Photograph by Eric Stockenstroom