Macronyx capensis (Cape longclaw, Orange-throated longclaw) 

Oranjekeelkalkoentjie [Afrikaans]; Inqilo [Xhosa]; iNqomfi [Zulu]; Lethoele, Mahlakali [South Sotho]; Holiyo, Hwiyo (generic terms for longclaw) [Tsonga]; Kaapse langklauw [Dutch]; Sentinelle du Cap [French]; Kapgroßsporn [German]; Unha-longa-de-garganta-laranja [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: Motacillidae > Genus: Macronyx

Macronyx capensis (Cape longclaw, Orange-throated longclaw)  Macronyx capensis (Cape longclaw, Orange-throated longclaw) 

Cape longclaw, South Africa. [photo Tony Faria ©]

Cape longclaw, Strandfontein Sewerage Works, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ©]
Macronyx capensis (Cape longclaw, Orange-throated longclaw)  Macronyx capensis (Cape longclaw, Orange-throated longclaw) 
Cape longclaw, Barberspan, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] Cape longclaw juvenile, Strandfontein Sewage Works, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to southern Africa, occurring in two separate areas: Zimbabwe and adjacent Mozambique as well as South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland (absent from the karoo and Kalahari). It generally prefers moist short grassland and fynbos, also occupying pastures and the edges of vleis.

Distribution of Cape longclaw 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.  


It mainly eats insects supplemented with seeds, doing most of its foraging on the ground, plucking food from vegetation and hawking prey aerially. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous territorial solitary nester, with males performing displays in which they flutter to about 10 metres above ground while singing, before dropping down again.
  • The nest (see image below) is built solely by the female, consisting of a deep cup of coarse grass stems lined with fine rootlets, typically well concealed between two grass tufts.
Macronyx capensis (Cape longclaw, Orange-throated longclaw)   

Cape longclaw nest with eggs, Wakkerstroom, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is almost year-round, peaking from August-October in the Western Cape, but from November-January elsewhere.
  • It lays 1-4 eggs, which are mainly incubated by the female for about 13-14 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after approximately 13-14 days.


Not threatened.


  • 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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