Apalis melanocephala (Black-headed apalis) 

Swartkopkleinjantjie [Afrikaans]; Tanzania-apalis [Dutch]; Apalis à tête noire [French]; Schwarzkopf-fFeinsänger [German]; Apalis-de-cabeça-preta [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Cisticolidae > Genus: Apalis

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Kenya through Tanzania to southern Africa. Here it is locally common in central Mozambique bordering on south-eastern Botswana, preferring tangled creepers in the canopy of coastal evergreen forest, or Afromontane forest strips along rivers. It also occupies dry forest with sandy soil, coastal scrub forest and stunted miombo (Brachystegia) woodland.

Distribution of Black-headed apalis 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).


It mainly eats, especially grasshopper nymphs (Orthoptera), flies (Diptera) and caterpillars. It does most of its foraging in the canopy, gleaning prey from leaves, flowers and twigs and often joining mixed-species foraging flocks.


  • The nest is an oval-shape with a side entrance built of fine lichen such as old-mans-beard-lichen (Usnea). It is typically attached with spider web to twigs in the foliage of trees, about 4-7 metres above ground.
  • Egg-laying season is around November.
  • It lays 1-3 pale greenish eggs, which are boldly marked with specks of chestnut and brown.


Not threatened, although its range has been slowly decreasing in southern Africa.


  • 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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