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Bush Blackcap Lioptilus nigricapillus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species is listed as Near Threatened because it has a small population, which is threatened by afforestation of its habitat. There is no evidence of a decline, but it may decline in the future, in which case the species may qualify for uplisting to a higher threat category.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Distribution and population
Lioptilus nigricapillus ranges from the north Eastern Cape, through New Griqualand, the Drakensberg and mistbelt forests of KwaZulu-Natal, the eastern Free State and Mpumalanga to the Northern Province in eastern South Africa, as well as western Swaziland. It is generally uncommon to fairly common (del Hoyo et al. 2007), within a small range of less than 50,000 km2. The South African population has been estimated at 1,500-5,000 individuals, with between 500 and 1,000 estimated to be in reserves. Swaziland is thought to hold a resident breeding population of 40 individuals.

Population justification
The South African population has been estimated at 1,500-5,000 individuals and Swaziland is thought to hold a resident breeding population of 40 individuals. The range of 1,500-5,000 individuals roughly equates to 1,000-3,300 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and fragmentation.

This species prefers major stands of mature forest in ravines fringed with thickets of Leucosidea and Buddleia. This habitat is often surrounded by grassland. It usually occurs at 750-1,825 m, but is recorded down to 600 m during the winter months, and seen at the coast in May when it occupies coastal forests and valley bushveld, and occasionally ferns and shrubs in gardens (del Hoyo et al. 2007). It feeds on small berries, fruits and invertebrates. Breeding takes place between October and January. The nest, in which 2-3 eggs are laid, is a cup of grass, leaves, fine twigs, roots, forbs and tendrils, lined with rootlets, bark strips, fine twigs and animal hair, and placed 1-6 m above the ground in a fork in the subcanopy of a tree or bush. It is a resident, and a partial altitudinal migrant (del Hoyo et al. 2007).

Some of its scrub and forest habitat has already been lost to commercial afforestation. With the majority of its habitat expected to become severely afforested, this species may undergo serious declines in the future.

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in Giant's Castle Game Reserve and Monk's Cowl Nature Reserve, in KwaZulu-Natal (del Hoyo et al. 2007). Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to obtain an up-to-date population estimate. Monitor population trends through regular surveys. Monitor habitat loss throughout its range. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status.

Barnes, K. N. 2000. The Eskom Red Data Book of birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D. 2007. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Khwaja, N., O'Brien, A., Pilgrim, J., Robertson, P., Taylor, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Lioptilus nigricapillus. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Timaliidae (Babblers and parrotbills)
Species name author (Vieillot, 1818)
Population size 1000-3300 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 171,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change