Telacanthura ussheri (Mottled spinetail)

Gevlekte stekelstert [Afrikaans]; Boabab-gierzwaluw [Dutch]; Martinet d'Ussher [French]; Baobabsegler [German]; Rabo-espinhoso-malhado [Portuguese]

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Telacanthura ussheri (Mottled spinetail)  

Mottled spinetail, Kruger National Park, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

 

The Mottled spinetail is patchily distributed across sub-Saharan Africa, and is most common along the West African coast. In southern Africa it is scarce and localised, with scattered populations in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the Caprivi Strip. It mainly forages in small flocks, usually over dense woodland, such as miombo (Brachystegia) woodland, evergreen and riverine forest, etc. It usually lives in colonies of about 2-5 breeding pairs, however it does occasionally nest solitarily. The nest is a half saucer, built of a wide variety of materials glued together with saliva. It is almost always placed in a cavity in a Baobab tree, however in other parts of Africa it also nests in buildings and crevices.

Distribution and habitat

Patchily distributed across sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Kenya south to southern Africa. In southern Africa it is scarce and localised, occurring in northern and south-eastern Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north-eastern Limpopo Province. It mainly forages over dense woodland, such as miombo (Brachystegia) woodland, or evergreen and riverine forest.

Distribution of Mottled spinetail in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Food 

It usually forages in small flocks, occasionally including other swift or swallow species. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • Usually breeds in colonies of about 2-5 breeding pairs, however it does occasionally nest solitarily.
  • The nest is a saucer-shaped bowl, built of a wide variety of materials, such as feathers, twigs, bark and sand, all glued together with saliva. It is almost invariably placed in a cavity in a Baobab (Adansonia digitata) tree, however in other parts of Africa it also nests in buildings and crevices.
  • Egg-laying season is mainly from November-March.
  • It lays 1-2 eggs, which are incubated for unknown period.

Threats

Not threatened.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 
 

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