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Longclaw: Rosy-throated

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
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Johan van Rensburg
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Longclaw: Rosy-throated

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Sun Sep 09, 2007 8:31 pm

Longclaw, rosy-throated, Macronyx ameliae

Physical characteristics:
The unmistakable pink to scarlet throat and chin and lighter shade on the chest and belly contrasts well with the broad black necklace across the upper breast. The upper edge of the necklace is well-defined, the lower margin, streaked. The back view of the bird is dominated by dark olive-brown to black feathers, broadly edged buff. The birds face is well-marked with a buff supercilium, cinnamon ear coverts and thin black moustachial stripe joining up with the necklace. The thighs, sides and undertail is buff with scattered streaks of dark brown. The bill is horn-coloured, the base of the lower mandible pale yellow. The eyes are brown, legs and feet pale brown.

This bird was photographed this morning, giving excellent views from the fine grass next to the end of the loop road in the Cape Vidal reserve.

Distribution and habitat:
In South Africa this longclaw is found along the lowland wetlands bordering the coastal dunes from Kosi Bay to Richards Bay. It prefers damp or waterlogged grasslands and the edges of vleis and lakes. It prefers short fine grass. They are near-threatened with the destruction of wetlands in favour of agriculture being the main reason for their disappearance from the area from Richards Bay to Durban in which they were frequently seen prior to the 1960s.

Usually the longclaw is found in pairs, although I have only had sightings of lone birds. They are often reluctant to fly when disturbed and when you come across one, you are likely to be offered extended views as the bird ducks under the grass and runs to a new vantage point where it will pop up to survey the area.

The rosy-throated longclaw mainly feeds on small insects like grasshoppers that it catches on the ground. It may pursue and catch flying ants in flight.

Breeding and nesting:
It is monogamous and territorial in its nesting habits, the female building a deep cup with coarse grass and rootlets next to shallow wetlands with the male in close attendance. The nest is often deep in thick grass, accessed by a short passage. The birds breed from October to December; the eggs being incubated by the female only over a two-week period. The hatchlings are fed by both parents for another 16 days.

Reference: Roberts VII
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