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A photo of a Long-billed Crombec (Sylvietta rufescens)
Long-billed Crombec

Long-billed Crombec

Sylvietta rufescens

The long-billed crombec, or Cape crombec, is a diminutive African warbler, notable for its nearly tailless stature. This bird measures a mere 12 cm in length and tips the scales at around 16 grams. Its plumage is a subtle blend of grey-brown on the upperparts, while a pale grey supercilium graces its head, set apart from the whitish throat by a contrasting dark eye stripe. The breast is a soft whitish hue, transitioning smoothly into a buff belly. The species' defining feature, its long and slightly curved bill, is a dark blackish color.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the long-billed crombec, look for its small size, nearly absent tail, and the distinctive long, curved bill. Both sexes present a similar appearance, and the juvenile birds bear a strong resemblance to the adults. The bird's pale supercilium and dark eye stripe are key markers to distinguish it from other species.

Habitat

The long-billed crombec is commonly found in fynbos, a type of shrubland or heathland vegetation, as well as in open woodlands, savannahs, and dry Acacia scrub.

Distribution

This species breeds in the southern reaches of Africa, with its range extending from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, and Tanzania, all the way south to South Africa.

Behaviour

The long-billed crombec is a monogamous bird, pairing for life, and exhibits territorial behavior. It is often observed alone, in pairs, or within family groups. It forages methodically from the lower to the upper parts of bushes and trees, in search of insects and grass seeds. This bird is also known to participate in mixed-species feeding flocks. Its flight between trees is characterized by a distinctive bouncy quality.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of the long-billed crombec includes a variable series of trilled notes, such as "trreee-rriiit trreee-rriiit," and a harsh "pttt."

Breeding

The nest of the long-billed crombec is an elaborate hanging bag constructed from grasses, spider webs, and plant fibers, often attached to the lower limbs of an Acacia tree. The species lays one to three white eggs, which are incubated for a fortnight until hatching. Both parents are involved in feeding the chicks, which fledge after an additional two weeks.

Diet and Feeding

This bird's diet consists primarily of insects and grass seeds, which it seeks out in its methodical foraging behavior from the lower to the upper parts of vegetation.

Conservation status

The long-billed crombec is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. It boasts a large range, estimated at 4,500,000 km², and is believed to have a large population size. There is no evidence to suggest that the population is declining at a rate that would meet the criteria for a more threatened category.

Long-billed Crombec Sounds



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