Eurylaimidae – Broadbills

Long-tailed Broadbill Psarisomus dalhousiae ©JJ Harrison (Creative Commons) Website

The broadbills are a clade of small passerine birds, Eurylaimidae (named after the type genus Eurylaimus). The Smithornis and Pseudocalyptomena species occur in sub-Saharan Africa; the rest extend from the eastern Himalayas to Indonesia and the Philippines. The family also also includes the sapayoa from the Neotropics and the asities from Madagascar, although some taxonomists separate each of the three into distinct families.

Many of the broadbills are brightly coloured and have broad heads, large eyes and a hooked, flat and broad beak. They live in the dense canopies of wet forests, allowing them to be inconspicuous despite their brightly coloured plumage. The plumage of the juveniles eurylaimids are similar to those of the adults, differing in being duller and shorter-winged and shorter-tailed in some cases.

They are mostly insectivorous and carnivorous. Prey taken include insects, spiders, centipedes, and millipedes, as well as lizards and tree frogs, usually obtained by sallying from a perch to snatch insects in flight, or by gleaning the prey off leaves and branches while flying. Some species may take some fruit, but only the green broadbills of the genus Calyptomena and the Grauer’s broadbill are primarily frugivores (also taking some insects).

They are generally gregarious, with many species moving about in flocks of about 20 individuals. Broadbills attach their purse-shaped nests to suspended vines, and leave a tail of fibres hanging below it. This gives the nest the appearance of being random debris caught in the tree, an effect further enhanced by the birds covering the nest with lichen and spider webs. Broadbills typically lay two to three eggs.

There are 20 species in this family; they are:

African Broadbill Smithornis capensis
Grey-headed Broadbill Smithornis sharpei
Rufous-sided Broadbill Smithornis rufolateralis

Green Broadbill Calyptomena viridis
Hose’s Broadbill Calyptomena hosii
Whitehead’s Broadbill Calyptomena whiteheadi

Black-and-red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos

Long-tailed Broadbill Psarisomus dalhousiae

Silver-breasted Broadbill Serilophus lunatus

Banded Broadbill Eurylaimus javanicus
Black-and-yellow Broadbill Eurylaimus ochromalus
Wattled (Mindanao) Broadbill Eurylaimus steerii
Visayan Broadbill Eurylaimus samarensis

Dusky Broadbill Corydon sumatranus

Grauer’s Broadbill (African Green Broadbil) Pseudocalyptomena graueri

Sapayoa Sapayoa aenigma

Velvet Asity Philepitta castanea
Schlegel’s Asity Philepitta schlegeli

Common Sunbird-Asity Neodrepanis coruscans
Yellow-bellied Sunbird-Asity Neodrepanis hypoxantha

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 20

Useful Reading

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