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Chapin's Flycatcher Muscicapa lendu

Although little is known about the current status of this species, it appears to be rare throughout its fragmented range, and the intense pressures on its habitat imply that its probably small population is declining. It is therefore considered Vulnerable.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li

Taxonomic note
Muscicapa lendu and M. itombwensis (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) have been lumped into M. lendu following Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993).

12-13 cm. Small, unobtrusive flycatcher. Uniform, drab greyish-brown upperparts. Greyish underparts, paler throat and vent. Similar spp. Very similar Olivaceous Flycatcher M. olivascens has yellow lower mandible (can be very difficult to see in field). Care needed with identification, as the two species overlap in range and their altitudinal limits uncertain. Voice Thin, soft tsseet tsseet, and short buzzy trill, difficult to hear. Hints Found in pairs or groups of 2-4, it joins mixed-species flocks.

Distribution and population
Muscicapa lendu appears to be rare throughout its fragmented range. It is known from a narrow band in the Itombwe Mountains (subspecies itombwensis) and on the Lendu Plateau (the nominate subspecies) in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (Prigogine 1957, 1971, 1978, 1985). It also occurs in Bwindi (Impenetrable) Forest in Uganda (Keith and Vernon 1969), and has been recorded from Kakamega and North Nandi Forests in Kenya (Zimmerman 1972). There had been few recent records from the latter two localities (L. Bennun in litt. 1999), until 17 birds (13 singles and two pairs) were recorded in Kakamega Forest during surveys between November 2002 and February 2003 (Musila et al. 2006). Following these surveys, the total population in Kakamega Forest was estimated at c.200 birds (Musila et al. 2006). There is one sight record from Nyungwe Forest (Rwanda), but this requires confirmation (Dowsett-Lemaire 1990).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The species's population is suspected to be declining in line with forest clearance and degradation at known sites. The likely rate of decline, however, has not been estimated.

It inhabits dense montane forest (Prigogine 1957). In the Itombwe Mountains, it occurs between 1,470 and 1,820 m (Prigogine 1957, 1971), but in North Nandi it has occurred up to 2,150 m. It feeds on insects (Prigogine 1957, 1971). In Itombwe, it breeds during March-September, and may also lay during January-February (Prigogine 1971). Birds recorded in Kakamega Forest during surveys in 2002 and 2003 were seen perched 12-22 m above the ground, on bare branches of tall indigenous trees with a mean canopy height of 27 m (Musila et al. 2006). Observations at Ikuywa River Forest (Kakamega) (Musila et al. 2006) suggest that the species can tolerate certain levels of forest degradation.

It is threatened by forest clearance for agriculture and timber. In the DRC, the Lendu Plateau is now largely deforested (N. Burgess in litt. 2003), while increased forest clearance for cattle-grazing and cultivation is a major threat at Itombwe, driven by political instability and crop failure (Omari et al. 1999). In Kenya, the Kakamega and North Nandi Forests are very seriously threatened by encroachment, uncontrolled tree-felling, charcoal making and firewood collection, while intense pressure from cattle-grazing is affecting the structure and regeneration of forest in Kakamega (L. Bennun in litt. 1999, Musila et al. 2006). The fragments of Kakamega Forest are distant from one another, and this could render the species's population at this site susceptible to deleterious genetic and demographic processes and events (Musila et al. 2006). Forests in the species's range are threatened by fires, which are often started for the collection of honey or for the production of charcoal (Plumptre et al. 2003).

Conservation Actions Underway
Its habitat in Bwindi Forest is well-protected by the Bwindi-Impenetrable National Park (T. Butynski in litt. 1999), but the Itombwe Mountains and Lendu Plateau are not protected (N. Burgess in litt. 2003). The northern third of Kakamega Forest is designated as a national reserve and is somewhat better protected than the rest of the forest. A local guides' group in Kakamega, KABICOTOA, has started a programme of environmental education and awareness activities, targeting forest-adjacent schools (L. Bennun in litt. 1999). At Isecheno Nature Reserve (incorporating the southern fraction of the main forest patch at Kakamega), the presence of forest guards and their surveillance has protected near-pristine, indigenous and presumably suitable habitat for the species (Musila et al. 2006). Overall, effective conservation of the species's forests in Kenya will require a major programme (L. Bennun in litt. 1999). Conservation Actions Proposed
Initiate a major conservation programme for Kakamega and Nandi Forests in Kenya (L. Bennun in litt. 1999). Survey its population density and status in Kakamega, North Nandi and Bwindi Forests, and evaluate its status in Itombwe when the security situation permits this. Study its ecology, including breeding and population dynamics, territory size, territoriality and dispersal (Musila et al. 2006) and determine its habitat requirements. Confirm whether it occurs in Nyungwe. Re-evaluate its taxonomy, especially in relation to M. olivascens (Dowsett-Lemaire 1990). At Kakamega Forest, for example, improve management practices for the retention of tall indigenous trees, and plant indigenous trees to create habitat corridors between fragments (Musila et al. 2006). Conduct further research into appropriate conservation measures (Musila et al. 2006). Check for its presence in Kisere National Reserve (Kakamega) and develop a continuous monitoring scheme for the species (Musila et al. 2006). Monitor rates of forest clearance and degradation at all known sites.

Collar, N. J.; Stuart, S. N. 1985. Threatened birds of Africa and related islands: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, and International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Cambridge, U.K.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F. 1990. Eco-ethology, distribution and status of Nyungwe Forest birds, Rwanda. In: Dowsett, R.J. (ed.), Enquête faunistique et floristique dans la Forêt de Nyungwe, Rwanda, pp. 31-85. Tauraco Press, Ely, U.K.

Keith, G. S.; Vernon, C. J. 1969. Bird notes from northern and eastern Zambia. Puku 5: 131-139.

Musila, S.N.; Muchane, M.; Ndang'ang'a, K. 2006. Distribution and population size of Chapin's Flycatcher Muscicapa lendu in Kakamega Forest, Kenya. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 13(2): 162-166.

Omari, I.; Hart, J. A.; Butynski, T. M.; Birnashirwa, N. R.; Upoki, A.; M'Keyo, Y.; Bengana, F.; Bashonga, M.; Baguruburnwe, N. 1999. The Itombwe Massif, Democratic Republic of Congo: biological surveys and conservation, with an emphasis on Grauer's gorilla and birds endemic to the Albertine Rift. Oryx 33: 301-322.

Plumptre, A. J.; Behangana, M.; Davenport, T. R. B.; Kahindo, C.; Kityo, R.; Ndomba, E.; Nkuutu, D.; Owiunji, I.; Ssegawa, P.; Eilu, G. 2003. The biodiversity of the Albertine Rift. Wildlife Conservation Society, New York.

Prigogine, A. 1957. La redécouverte de Muscicapa lendu (Chapin). Revue de Zoologie et Botanique Africaine 55: 406-410.

Prigogine, A. 1971. Les oiseaux de l'Itombwe et de son hinterland. Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren, Belgium.

Prigogine, A. 1978. Les oiseau de l'Itombwe et de son hinterland, Vol. 2. Annales des Sciences Zoologiques Musee Royal de l'Afrique Centrale.

Prigogine, A. 1985. Conservation of the avifauna of the forests of the Albertine Rift. In: Diamond, A.W.; Lovejoy, T.E. (ed.), Conservation of tropical forest birds, pp. 277-295. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

Zimmerman, D. A. 1972. The avifauna of the Kakamega Forest, Western Kenya, including a bird population study. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 149: 255-339.

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Bennun, L., Burgess, N., Butynski, T.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Muscicapa lendu. Downloaded from on 12/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 12/07/2014.

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.

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Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Chapin’s flycatcher (Muscicapa lendu) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Muscicapidae (Chats and Old World flycatchers)
Species name author (Chapin, 1932)
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 37,600 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species