Donacobiidae – Donacobius

Black-capped Donacobius Donacobius atricapilla ©James Lowen Website

The black-capped donacobius (Donacobius atricapilla) is a conspicuous, vocal South American bird. It is found in tropical swamps and wetlands in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela; also Panama of Central America

The black-capped donacobius is the only member of the genus Donacobius. Formerly of uncertain taxonomy the Black-capped Donacobius has now been adjudged to form a family of its own. Its familial placement is not established, and ornithologists disagree as to its closest relations.

In the 19th century, it was placed in the Turdidae, and in the 20th century, moved to the Mimidae. It had various English names, including the ‘Black-capped Mockingthrush’. In the 1980s and 1990s, suggestions that it was a type of wren Troglodytidae were accepted by the South American Classification Committee (SACC), the American Ornithologists Union (AOU) and most other authorities. More recently, listing organizations and authors follow Van Remsen and Keith Barker’s conclusion that it is not a wren either, but instead most closely related to an Old World (probably African) lineage.

Black-capped donacobiuses are common in a wide range of Amazonian wetlands, including oxbow lakes, riparian zones, and other areas with tall dense aquatic or semi-aquatic vegetation. A third of the species range is outside the Amazon Basin, from Panama, northern Colombia, and western Venezuela, the Orinoco River system of Venezuela, to southeast coastal and inland Brazil, and neighboring countries southward, Paraguay, and extreme northern Argentina. There is just the one species:

Black-capped Donacobius Donacobius atricapilla

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 1

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