The picathartes, rockfowl or bald crows are a small genus of two passerine bird species forming the family Picathartidae found in the rain-forests of tropical west and central Africa. They have unfeathered heads, and feed on insects and invertebrates picked from damp rocky areas. Both species are totally non-migratory, being dependent on a specialised rocky jungle habitat. Both species are listed as vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN Red List.
Temporal range: Lutetian–Recent
|White-necked rockfowl (Picathartes gymnocephalus)|
|White-necked (pink) and grey-necked (green) rockfowl distribution|
The taxonomic position of the clade and its two species has been confusing. At various times, it has been grouped with the babblers, flycatchers, starlings, crows and others before being placed in a family of its own. Serle in 1952 thought it resembled the Asian genus Eupetes while Sibley used egg-albumin protein similarity, determined by electrophoresis, to suggest that it belonged to the Timaliidae. Olson revived the idea that it was related to Eupetes in 1979. A molecular sequence based study suggests that it may indeed be closely related to the crows and placed somewhere at the boundary between the Passerida and Corvida. More specifically they appear to be a sister of the rockjumpers (Chaetops) and are basal to the clade containing the Sylvioidea, Passeroidea and Muscicapoidea but outside the core Corvoidea.
This generic name comes from a combination of the Latin genera pica for "magpie" and cathartes for "vulture".
The picathartes are large (33–38 centimetres (13–15 in) long) passerines with crow-like black bills, long neck, tail and legs. They weigh between 200–250 grams (7.1–8.8 oz). The strong feet and grey legs are adapted to terrestrial movement, and the family progresses through the forest with long bounds on the ground. The wings are long but are seldom used for long flights. The plumage is similar between the two species, with white breasts and bellies and darker (grey and grey-black) wings, backs and tails. The neck color varies between the two species, giving them their individual names (grey-necked and white-necked picathartes). They also have bald heads with brightly coloured and patterned skin.
Rockfowl are generalised feeders, taking a wide range of invertebrate prey. Prey items include a range of insects, particularly beetles, termites and ants, as well as millipedes, centipedes, earthworms and gastropods. Frogs and lizards are also taken, but these are mostly fed to their chicks. Prey is taken both by foraging on the ground and in the trees. They will also forage in shallow flowing water for crabs. When foraging on the ground, they move forward with hops and bounds, then pausing to search for prey. The longish bill is used to turn over leaves and seize prey, but the feet are never used for either. Both species will follow swarms of ants in order to snatch prey fleeing the ants.
Both species of rockfowl breed seasonally in the wet season. Where an area experiences two wet seasons in a year, they will breed twice in that year. Despite reports of cooperative breeding, it is now thought that they are exclusively monogamous, breeding in pairs. They are also commonly reported to be colonial, and will breed in colonies of up to seven pairs, but solitary breeders and smaller colonies of just two pairs are more common. The nest is made of mud attached to a cave roof or overhanging rock on a cliff. The nest is a cup-like structure of dried leaves, twigs and plant fibres set into dried mud. Two eggs are laid, 24 to 48 hours apart. Both parents participate in incubating the eggs, each taking 12-hour shifts before being relieved by their partner. It takes around 20 days for the eggs to hatch. Picathartes hatchlings are altricial at hatching, almost naked (a few feathers are present on the crown and back) and helpless. The chicks take around 25 days to fledge.
The rockfowl are distributed in west and western Central Africa, in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana (white-necked rockfowl), Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic (grey-necked rockfowl). The rockfowl live in lowland rainforest at up to 800 m, in rocky and hilly terrain on the slopes of hills and mountains. These birds require forest litter for foraging, a large enough area to contain army-ant swarms (Dorylinae), and rocks, cliffs or caves for nesting sites.
Amalocichla is a genus of bird in the Petroicidae family that are found in New Guinea.Australasian wren
The Australasian wrens are a family, Maluridae, of small, insectivorous passerine birds endemic to Australia and New Guinea. While commonly known as wrens, they are unrelated to the true wrens of the Northern Hemisphere. The family comprises 29 species (including fifteen fairywrens, three emu-wrens, and eleven grasswrens) in six genera.Baeolophus
Baeolophus is a genus of birds in the family Paridae. Its members are commonly known as titmice. All the species are native to North America. In the past, most authorities retained Baeolophus as a subgenus within the genus Parus, but treatment as a distinct genus, initiated by the American Ornithological Society, is now widely accepted.Bakossi Forest Reserve
The Bakossi Forest Reserve is a 5,517 square kilometres (2,130 sq mi) reserve within the Bakossi Mountains in Cameroon, home to many rare species of plants, animals and birds.
The Forest Reserve in turn contains the Bakossi National Park, created by a decree in early 2008.
The park covers 29,320 hectares (72,500 acres), and was justified on the basis of preserving plant diversification.The Bakossi Mountains, which include Mount Kupe, cover in total about 230,000 square kilometres (89,000 sq mi), with perhaps the largest area of cloud forest in West-Central Africa.
They are part of a larger tract of forest that extends northward into the western foothills of the Bamboutos Mountains.
The reserve was created in 1956. In 2000, the main section of the reserve was designated a protection forest. All logging was banned and Kupe became a "strict nature reserve". The local Bakossi people participated in delineating the boundaries.
Between 2003 and 2007, the effectiveness of management in this and other parks improved greatly, although the local people were not well integrated into the system, and lacked education and awareness of environmental goals.The mountains have one of the healthiest remaining populations of the endangered drill, a primate related to the mandrill.
The drill population in Bakossiland has been threatened by hunters in the area. Drills became extinct in the late 1970s in the Loum Forest Reserve, and may be extinct on Mount Mwanenguba.
However, since 1994, on Mount Kupe the drill population has started to recover due to protection from the Bakossi traditional chiefs.
Other primates are Preuss's monkey, red-eared guenon, greater spot-nosed monkey and several species of bush baby, collared mangabey, chimpanzee and Preuss's red colobus.
Some of the species of chameleon are thought to be found only in the region.
The area has many species of bird. On Mount Kupe alone, more than 329 species have been recorded.
These include the Mount Kupe bushshrike, the endangered white-throated mountain babbler, and the vulnerable green-breasted bushshrike and grey-necked picathartes.Barwing
The barwings are the genus Actinodura of passerine birds in the Leiothrichidae family. They are found in the hills of southern Asia from India east to China and Taiwan.Grey-necked rockfowl
The grey-necked rockfowl (Picathartes oreas) is a medium-sized bird in the family Picathartidae with a long neck and tail. Also known as the grey-necked picathartes, this passerine is mainly found in rocky areas of close-canopied rainforest from south-west Nigeria through Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and south-west Gabon. It additionally lives on the island of Bioko. Its distribution is patchy, with populations often isolated from each other. The rockfowl typically chooses to live near streams and inselbergs in its forested habitat. It has no recognized subspecies, though some believe that it forms a superspecies with the white-necked rockfowl. The grey-necked rockfowl has grey upperparts, a light grey breast, and lemon-coloured underparts. Its unusually long tail is used for balance, and its thighs are muscular. The head is nearly featherless, with the exposed skin being powder blue on the forehead and upper mandible and carmine on the hindcrown. The bird’s cheeks and eyes are covered in a large, circular black patch that, though narrow, connects and divides the carmine and powder blue skin at the peak of the crown. Though the bird is usually silent, some calls are known.
This rockfowl feeds primarily on insects, though some plant matter, such as fruit and flower buds, is eaten. One feeding strategy involves following Dorylus army ant swarms, feeding on insects flushed by the ants. Rockfowl move through the forest mainly through a series of hops and bounds, or short flights in low vegetation. It travels either alone or in small groups. This species rarely flies for long distances. The grey-necked rockfowl is monogamous and pairs nest either alone or in the vicinity of other pairs, sometimes in colonies of two to five nests, though one colony of forty nests has been recorded. These nests are constructed out of mud and are formed into a deep cup that is built on rock surfaces, typically in caves or on cliffs. Two eggs are laid twice a year. Though the birds breed in colonies, infanticide exists in this species, with rockfowl attempting to kill the young of other pairs. Nestlings mature in about a month.
This species is classified as vulnerable as its dwindling and fragmented populations are threatened by habitat destruction. A conservation plan has been drawn up for this species, and research into its current distribution is ongoing. Some of the indigenous peoples of Cameroon either respect this species or, in some cases, fear it. Today, this rockfowl is considered one of Africa’s most desirable birds by birders and is a symbol of ecotourism across its range.Handbook of the Birds of the World
The Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) is a multi-volume series produced by the Spanish publishing house Lynx Edicions in partnership with BirdLife International. It is the first handbook to cover every known living species of bird. The series is edited by Josep del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott, Jordi Sargatal and David A. Christie.
All 16 volumes have been published. For the first time an animal class will have all the species illustrated and treated in detail in a single work. This has not been done before for any other group in the animal kingdom.
Material in each volume is grouped first by family, with an introductory article on each family; this is followed by individual species accounts (taxonomy, subspecies and distribution, descriptive notes, habitat, food and feeding, breeding, movements, status and conservation, bibliography). In addition, all volumes except the first and second contain an essay on a particular ornithological theme. More than 200 renowned specialists and 35 illustrators (including Toni Llobet, Hilary Burn, Chris Rose and H. Douglas Pratt) from more than 40 countries have contributed to the project up to now, as well as 834 photographers from all over the world.
Since the first volume appeared in 1992, the series has received various international awards. The first volume was selected as Bird Book of the Year by the magazines Birdwatch and British Birds, and the fifth volume was recognised as Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Magazine, the American Library Association magazine. The seventh volume, as well as being named Bird Book of the Year by Birdwatch and British Birds, also received the distinction of Best Bird Reference Book in the 2002 WorldTwitch Book Awards This same distinction was also awarded to Volume 8 a year later in 2003.Individual volumes are large, measuring 32 by 25 centimetres (12.6 by 9.8 in), and weighing between 4 and 4.6 kilograms (8.8 and 10.1 lb); it has been commented in a review that "fork-lift truck book" would be a more appropriate title.
As a complement to the Handbook of the Birds of the World and with the ultimate goal of disseminating knowledge about the world's avifauna, in 2002 Lynx Edicions started the Internet Bird Collection (IBC). It is a free-access, but not free-licensed, on-line audiovisual library of the world's birds with the aim of posting videos, photos and sound recordings showing a variety of biological aspects (e.g. subspecies, plumages, feeding, breeding, etc.) for every species. It is a non-profit endeavour fuelled by material from more than one hundred contributors from around the world.
In early 2013, Lynx Edicions launched the online database HBW Alive, which includes the volume and family introductions and updated species accounts from all 17 published HBW volumes. Since its launch, the taxonomy has been thoroughly revised and updated twice (once for non-passerines and once for passerines), following the publication of the two volumes of the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World.
The Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive site also provides a free access 'Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology'.Heterophasia
Heterophasia, the sibias, is a bird genus in the family Leiothrichidae.Jabouilleia
Jabouilleia is a genus of scimitar babblers, placed in the Pellorneidae family. They are jungle birds with long downcurved bills.
Short-tailed scimitar babbler, Jabouilleia danjoui
Naung Mung scimitar babbler, Jabouilleia naungmungensisKambui Hills Forest Reserve
The Kambui Hills Forest Reserve occupies an area of 14,335 hectares in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. It is located 10 kilometres from the town of Kenema with terrain consisting of steep slopes that reach an altitude of between 100 and 645 metres. The area mainly contains forest habitat but there is also some savanna and wetland. Over 200 separate species of birds have been recorded in the reserve including vulnerable species the white-necked picathartes and green-tailed bristlebill and near threatened species the yellow-casqued hornbill, rufous-winged illadopsis and copper-tailed glossy-starling.Leiothrichidae
The laughingthrushes are a family of Old World passerine birds. They are diverse in size and coloration. These are birds of tropical areas, with the greatest variety in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The entire family used to be included in the Timaliidae.List of species protected by CITES Appendix I
This is a list of species of plants and animals protected by Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, commonly abbreviated as CITES. There are no fungi listed in any appendix.
List of species protected by CITES Appendix II
List of species protected by CITES Appendix IIIPachycephalopsis
Pachycephalopsis is a genus of birds in the Australasian robin family Petroicidae that are found in New Guinea.Pterorhinus
Pterorhinus is a genus of passerine birds in the family Leiothrichidae.Rail-babbler
The rail-babbler or Malaysian rail-babbler (Eupetes macrocerus) is a strange, rail-like, brown and pied ground-living bird. It is the only species in the genus Eupetes and family Eupetidae. It lives on the floor of primary forests in the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra (the nominate subspecies macrocerus), as well as Borneo (ssp. borneensis). It is distantly related to African crow-like birds. Its population has greatly decreased because much of the lowland primary forest has been cut, and secondary forests usually have too dense a bottom vegetation or do not offer enough shade to be favourable for the species. However, it is locally still common in logged forest or on hill-forest on slopes, and probably not in immediate danger of extinction. The species is poorly known and rarely seen, in no small part due to its shyness.Thrush (bird)
The thrushes are a family, Turdidae, of passerine birds with a worldwide distribution. The family was once much larger before biologists determined the subfamily Saxicolinae, which includes the chats and European robins, were Old World flycatchers. Thrushes are small to medium-sized ground living birds that feed on insects, other invertebrates and fruit. Some unrelated species around the world have been named after thrushes due to their similarity to birds in this family.White-necked rockfowl
The white-necked rockfowl (Picathartes gymnocephalus) is a medium-sized bird in the family Picathartidae, with a long neck and tail. Also known as the white-necked picathartes, this passerine is mainly found in rocky forested areas at higher altitudes in West Africa from Guinea to Ghana. Its distribution is patchy, with populations often being isolated from each other. The rockfowl typically chooses to live near streams and inselbergs. It has no recognized subspecies, though some believe that it forms a superspecies with the grey-necked rockfowl. The white-necked rockfowl has greyish-black upperparts and white underparts. Its unusually long, dark brown tail is used for balance, and its thighs are muscular. The head is nearly featherless, with the exposed skin being bright yellow except for two large, circular black patches located just behind the eyes. Though the bird is usually silent, some calls are known.
These rockfowl feed primarily on insects, though parents feed small frogs to their young. One feeding strategy involves following Dorylus army ant swarms, feeding on insects flushed by the ants. Rockfowl move through the forest primarily through a series of hops and bounds or short flights in low vegetation. This species rarely flies for long distances. The white-necked rockfowl is monogamous and pairs nest either alone or in the vicinity of other pairs, sometimes in colonies with as many as eight nests. These nests are constructed out of mud formed into a deep cup and are built on rock surfaces, typically in caves. Two eggs are laid twice a year. Though the birds breed in colonies, infanticide is fairly common in this species, with rockfowl attempting to kill the young of other pairs. Nestlings mature in about a month. This bird is long-lived.
This species is classified as Vulnerable as its dwindling and fragmented populations are threatened by habitat destruction. Conservation efforts are underway in parts of its range in the form of habitat protection, education efforts, and new laws. Some of the indigenous peoples of Sierra Leone considered the species to be a protector of the home of their ancestral spirits. This rockfowl is considered one of Africa's most desirable birds by birders and is a symbol of ecotourism across its range.Wildlife of Gabon
The wildlife of Gabon is composed of its flora and fauna. Gabon is a largely low-lying country with a warm, humid climate. Much of the country is still covered by tropical rainforest and there are also grasslands, savannas, large rivers and coastal lagoons.