Platysteiridae – Wattle-eyes & Batises

Cape Batis Batis capensis ©Trevor Hardaker Website

Platysteiridae is a family of small stout passerine birds of the African tropics. The family contains the wattle-eyes and batises. They were previously classed as a subfamily of the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae.

The Platysteiridae are arboreal birds, primarily of the woodlands and forests of sub-Saharan Africa. The family is restricted to mainland Africa and the surrounding islands. The shrike-flycatchers and the genus Dyaphorophyia are birds of dense forest, the rest of the wattle-eyes are found in woodland, and the batises range across all habitats except the densest forests of the Congo Basin and the driest deserts. The pririt batis and pygmy batis are able to live in highly 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 around the equatorial regions, with half the known species being located in Tanzania and almost half also ranging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya.

The family is overwhelmingly sedentary. However, some batis species undertake season migrations as well as some local movements due to changing local conditions.

These insect-eating birds are found in usually 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 low in a tree or bush.

One species, the banded wattle-eye, is considered threatened by human activities. The species has a restricted range in Cameroon that is vulnerable to forest clearance and is listed as endangered by the IUCN. Two further 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

According to most sources there are 33 species of Batises, Watle-eyes and allies in the family Platysteiridae; they are:

African Shrike-flycatcher Megabyas flammulatus

Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher Bias musicus

Ruwenzori Batis Batis diops
Margaret’s (Boulton’s) Batis Batis margaritae
Forest (Short-tailed) Batis Batis mixta
Reichenow’s Batis Batis reichenowi
Dark Batis Batis crypta
Cape Batis Batis capensis
Woodward’s Batis Batis fratrum
Chinspot Batis Batis molitor
Senegal Batis Batis senegalensis
Grey-headed Batis Batis orientalis
Pale Batis Batis soror
Pririt Batis Batis pririt
Eastern Black-headed Batis Batis minor
Western Black-headed Batis Batis erlangeri
Pygmy Batis Batis perkeo
Angolan Batis Batis minulla
Gabon Batis Batis minima
Ituri Batis Batis ituriensis
Fernando Po Batis Batis poensis

White-tailed Shrike Lanioturdus torquatus

West African Wattle-eye Platysteira hormophora
Chestnut Wattle-eye Platysteira castanea
White-spotted Wattle-eye Platysteira tonsa
Banded Wattle-eye Platysteira laticincta
Black-throated Wattle-eye Platysteira peltata
White-fronted Wattle-eye Platysteira albifrons
Brown-throated Wattle-eye Platysteira cyanea
Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye Platysteira concreta
Red-cheeked Wattle-eye Platysteira blissetti
Black-necked Wattle-eye Platysteira chalybea
Jameson’s Wattle-eye Platysteira jamesoni

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 33

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