- Dark Batis
Dark Batis Conservation status Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Aves Order: Passeriformes Family: Platysteiridae Genus: Batis Species: B. crypta Binomial name Batis crypta
Fjeldså, Bowie & Kiure, 2006
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 Short-tailed 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.
The Dark Batis is about 10 centimetres in length and weighs 10-15 grams. It has a dark bill and legs and red eyes. The male is white below with a broad black breastband. Above it has a dark grey crown, grey back with some black feather-tips, a black face-mask and black wings with a white stripe. The female has a greyish crown, brownish back, dark mask, slight white supercilium and a narrow rufous stripe on the wing. Below it has a rufous chin-spot and breast with whitish tips to some of the feathers.
The Short-tailed Batis has a slightly shorter tail. Males of the two species are very similar but Short-tailed Batises have a narrower breastband and usually some hint of a white supercilium which is lacking in the male Dark Batis. The females are more distinctive: female Short-tailed Batises have a paler breast and chin with more white tips giving a mottled appearance. There is a conspicuous white supercilium and a broad rufous wing-stripe.
The Dark Batis has a variety of whistling and harsh churring calls and its wings make a whirring sound in flight. The male's song is a series of short, low whistles.
Distribution and habitat
It is found in the Eastern Arc Mountains of East Africa from the Ukaguru Mountains and Uluguru Mountains of central Tanzania south-westwards as far as the Misuku Hills in northernmost Malawi. It inhabits evergreen forest from 540 to 2,140 metres above sea-level and is most common around 1,500 metres. It forages mainly in the lower and middle levels of trees, feeding on insects such as termites.
- BirdLife International (2008) Species factsheet: Batis crypta. Accessed 26 May 2008.
- Fjeldså, Jon; Bowie, Rauri C. K. & Kiure, Jacob (2006) The forest batis, Batis mixta, is two species: description of a new, narrowly distributed Batis species in the Eastern Arc biodiversity hotspot., Journal of Ornithology, 147 (4): 578-590.
- Harris, Tony & Franklin, Kim (2000) Shrikes & Bush-shrikes, Christopher Helm, London.
- A new batis in East Africa
- Distribution map
- Tanzania Bird Atlas:
- IUCN Red List least concern species
- Birds of Tanzania
- Birds of Malawi
- Animals described in 2006
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