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.

Species List

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

Species Links
  • African Shrike-flycatcher Megabyas flammulatus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • African Shrike-flycatcher Megabyas flammulatus

    Species Account
    The African shrike-flycatcher (Megabyas flammulatus) is a species of bird in the Platysteiridae family. It is monotypic within the genus Megabyas.[2] It is found in Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.
  • Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher Bias musicus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher Bias musicus

    Species Account
    The black-and-white shrike-flycatcher (Bias musicus), also known as the black-and-white flycatcher or vanga flycatcher, is a species of passerine bird found in Africa. It is often placed with the wattle-eyes and batises in the Platysteiridae family but may be more closely related to the helmetshrikes and woodshrikes.
  • Cape Batis Batis capensis

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Cape Batis Batis capensis

    Species Account
    The Cape batis (Batis capensis) is a small passerine bird in the wattle-eye family. It is resident in the highlands of southern and eastern South Africa and Zimbabwe.
  • Dark Batis Batis crypta

    IUCN Species Status
    This species occurs in southern and central Tanzania and extreme north-western Malawi, where it is patchily distributed in montane areas.
  • Dark Batis Batis crypta

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Dark Batis Batis crypta

    Species Account
    The dark batis (Batis crypta) is a small passerine bird belonging to the genus Batis in the wattle-eye family, Platysteiridae. It is found in highland forest in south-west Tanzania and northern Malawi. These birds were formerly thought to be forest batises (B. mixta) but in 2006 were described as a new species based on differences in morphology and mitochondrial DNA from those birds in northern Tanzania and Kenya.
  • Forest Batis (Short-tailed) Batis mixta

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Forest Batis (Short-tailed) Batis mixta

    Species Account
    The forest batis or short-tailed batis (Batis mixta) is a species of bird in the wattle-eye family, Platysteiridae occurring in eastern Africa.
  • Margaret's (Boulton's) Batis Batis margaritae

    Species Account
    Margaret's batis or Boulton's batis (Batis margaritae) is a species of small bird in the wattle-eyes family, Platysteiridae. It is found in south western central Africa.
  • Margaret's (Boulton's) Batis Batis margaritae

    IUCN Species Status
    The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.
  • Margaret's (Boulton's) Batis Batis margaritae

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Pririt Batis Batis pririt

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Pririt Batis Batis pririt

    Species Account
    The pririt batis (Batis pririt) also known as the pririt puff-back flycatcher or pririt puffback, is a small passerine bird in the wattle-eye family. It is resident in western and central southern Africa.
  • Reichenow's Batis Batis reichenowi

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Ruwenzori Batis Batis diops

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Ruwenzori Batis Batis diops

    Species Account
    The Ruwenzori batis (Batis diops) is a species of bird in the wattle-eyes family, Platysteiridae. It is found in the Albertine Rift montane forests above 1,400 m in eastern central Africa.
  • White-tailed Shrike Lanioturdus torquatus

    Species Account
    The White-tailed Shrike (Lanioturdus torquatus) occurs only in western Angola and Namibia and inhabits thorn scrub brush. The species spends a great deal of its time foraging on the ground where it hops from bush to bush scanning the leaves for any insect prey.
  • White-tailed Shrike Lanioturdus torquatus

    IUCN Species Status
    This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation).
  • White-tailed Shrike Lanioturdus torquatus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • White-tailed Shrike Lanioturdus torquatus

    Species Account
    The white-tailed shrike (Lanioturdus torquatus) is a small passerine bird from the family Platysteiridae. It is also commonly known as the chatshrike. It occurs only in western Angola and Namibia in thorn scrub. It forages from ground level, where it hops about in large bounds and upright posture, to 25m above ground, scanning for insects. The very short tail, with a small black mark at the tip of the central two feathers, is always carried down, never sticking up. Its range of calls includes loud ringing territorial whistles
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 33

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