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Hyliotidae - Hyliotas

Hyliota
Southern Hyliota Hyliota australis ©Adam Riley Website

The hyliotas are a single genera family of passerines from Africa. The taxonomic position of the genus has been a longstanding mystery. They have been formerly regarded as Old World warblers in the Sylviidae family, or related to the batises and wattle-eyes in the family Platysteiridae, bush-shrikes in the family Malaconotidae, or even Old-World flycatchers in the family Muscicapidae. An analysis of the mitochondrial DNA of the genus and possible relatives found they have no close relatives and are basal in the clade Passerida. Thus they are now regarded as a family in their own right; Hyliotidae.

They are found in the canopy of broad-leaf forests. They usually do not live in groups but will join mixed-species feeding flocks with other species. They are territorial and pairs are monogamous, nesting in camouflaged woven nests.

There are just four members of this newly delineated family formerly considered part of the Old World Warblers super family are all confined to Africa with three of the four wide ranging but the Usambara Hyliota endemic to Tanzania.

They are:

Yellow-bellied Hyliota Hyliota flavigaster
Southern Hyliota Hyliota australis
Usambara Hyliota Hyliota usambarae
Violet-backed Hyliota Hyliota violacea

Family Links

Hyliotas Hyliotidae

Family Account

Hyliotas are a small family of enigmatic passerines, primarily in west and central Africa. They are composed of just four species in a single genus (Hyliota). At various times they were assigned to the Old World flycatcher (Muscicapidae), or monarch flycatchers (Monarchidae), or batises and wattle-eyes (Platysteiridae), but most often they were thrown in among the Old World warblers (Sylviidae).

Hyliotas Hyliotidae

Species Account

The hyliotas are found in the canopy of broad-leaf forests. They usually do not live in groups but will join mixed-species feeding flocks with other species.

Species Links

Southern Hyliota Hyliota australis

Species Account

The southern hyliota (Hyliota australis) is a species of Hyliota. It is found in Angola, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and dry savanna.

Southern Hyliota Hyliota australis

BirdLife Species Account

Southern Hyliota Hyliota australis

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Hyliota australis Shelley, 1882, Umfuli River, Zimbabwe. Genus has in the past been placed variously with the Old World flycatchers (in family Muscicapidae), with the monarch-flycatchers (Monarchidae) or with the batises and wattle-eyes (Platysteiridae); although plumage resembles that of some muscicapid flycatchers of genus Ficedula, and nest is like that of platysteirids, the nestling mouth spots, the unspotted juvenile plumage and behaviour are all typical of present family. Often treated as including H. usambara as a race, but latter is sexually monomorphic and has several distinctive plumage characters. Proposed race pallidipectus (Angola, SE DRCongo and Zambia) inseparable from inornata. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Southern Hyliota Hyliota australis

IUCN Species Status

This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion.

Southern Hyliota Hyliota australis

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Usambara Hyliota Hyliota usambarae

BirdLife Species Account

Usambara Hyliota Hyliota usambarae

Species Account

It is found only in Tanzania. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, and plantations.

Usambara Hyliota Hyliota usambarae

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Hyliota australis usambara W. L. Sclater, 1932, Amani, 3000 feet [c. 915 m], Tanzania.

Usambara Hyliota Hyliota usambarae

IUCN Species Status

14 cm. Medium-sized, flycatcher-like warbler of forest and woodland. Glossy blue-black upperparts. Prominent white flash on wings. Orange throat and breast, fading to yellow on belly and vent.

Usambara Hyliota Hyliota usambarae

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Violet-backed Hyliota Hyliota violacea

Species Account

It is found in Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

Violet-backed Hyliota Hyliota violacea

BirdLife Species Account

Violet-backed Hyliota Hyliota violacea

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Hyliota violacea J. Verreaux and E. Verreaux, 1851, Gabon. Genus has in the past been placed variously with the Old World flycatchers (in family Muscicapidae), with the monarch-flycatchers (Monarchidae) or with the batises and wattle-eyes (Platysteiridae); although plumage resembles that of some muscicapid flycatchers of genus Ficedula, and nest is like that of platysteirids, the nestling mouth spots, the unspotted juvenile plumage and behaviour are all typical of present family. Two subspecies recognized.

Violet-backed Hyliota Hyliota violacea

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Yellow-bellied Hyliota Hyliota flavigaster

Species Account

It is found in Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.

Yellow-bellied Hyliota Hyliota flavigaster

BirdLife Species Account

Yellow-bellied Hyliota Hyliota flavigaster

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Hyliota flavigaster Swainson, 1837, Senegal. Genus has in the past been placed variously with the Old World flycatchers (in family Muscicapidae), with the monarch-flycatchers (Monarchidae) or with the batises and wattle-eyes (Platysteiridae); although plumage resembles that of some muscicapid flycatchers of genus Ficedula, and nest is like that of platysteirids, the nestling mouth spots, the unspotted juvenile plumage and behaviour are all typical of present family. Proposed race marginalis (S Tanzania and Mozambique) considered inseparable from barbozae. Two subspecies recognized.

Yellow-bellied Hyliota Hyliota flavigaster

IUCN Species Status

The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as locally fairly common to scarce (del Hoyo et al. 2006).

Yellow-bellied Hyliota Hyliota flavigaster

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 4