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Striped Flufftail

Sarothrura affinis

The Striped Flufftail, known scientifically as Sarothrura affinis, is a diminutive rail-like bird, a member of the flufftail family Sarothruridae. It is sometimes referred to as the Red-tailed Flufftail, a nod to its vibrant plumage.

Identification Tips

Adult males of the species boast a rich chestnut head, a stark white throat, and a predominantly black body adorned with white streaks and a subtle yellowish hue. Females, on the other hand, present a more subdued brown plumage with lighter barring and a pale underbelly. The subspecies S. a. antonii is distinguished by the chestnut color extending down to the breast and a slightly larger stature. These birds measure 14 to 15 cm in length, with males weighing between 25 and 30 grams. Their wingspan stretches from 23 to 24 cm.

Habitat

The Striped Flufftail is an adaptable species, inhabiting a variety of environments and elevations. It can be found from sea level in South Africa to the lofty heights of 3,700 meters in Kenya. Its preferred habitats include alpine grasslands, typically near water sources, and it thrives in areas with ample cover interspersed with patches of open ground. In the lower altitudes of South Africa, it is also known to inhabit fynbos regions.

Distribution

This species has a disjunct distribution across the Afromontane regions of southeastern Africa. The nominate subspecies, S. a. affinis, resides in eastern South Africa and Eswatini, while S. a. antonii can be found in eastern Zimbabwe and Mozambique, Malawi, southern Tanzania, Kenya, and the southern reaches of South Sudan.

Behaviour

Striped Flufftails are territorial birds, maintaining year-round territories that include a smaller breeding area within a larger home range. They are typically observed feeding on open ground.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Striped Flufftail is diverse, encompassing a range of insects such as beetles, caterpillars, ants, termites, flies, crickets, and bugs. They also consume spiders and seeds, foraging for these morsels on the open ground.

Breeding

Breeding activities for the Striped Flufftail coincide with the local rainy season. The nest is a simple construction, a bowl-shaped structure crafted from dry grass and nestled within a tuft of grass.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List categorizes the Striped Flufftail as Least Concern, indicating that, at present, the species does not face any immediate threat of extinction.

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