You are currently viewing Rare Pitta and Broadbill species East Africa, 1 endemic
Grauer's Broadbill endemic in Albertine Rift

Pitta and Broadbill species East Africa, 1 endemic

Order Passeriformes is the largest order of birds in the Class Aves. It contains over 140 families with 6.500 identified bird species world wide. They are also called perching birds. 3 toes point forward, 1 backwards called hallux and is long. This is called anisodactyl arrangement. This toe constellation makes it easier to hold on to a branch, twig, wire or blade of grass.

A further adaptation for perching is a tendon running on the rear side of the leg to the underside of the toes is attached to the muscle behind the Tibiotarsus (the large bone between femur and tarsometatarsus). This makes the feet curl automatically once the leg is bent and becomes stiff when landing on a branch. So they can sleep without falling down and using valuable energy. Learn more

Passerines are mostly insectivorous or omnivorous meaning feeding on insects, small vertebrates, fruits, seeds and nectar. Omnivorous birds change to more carnivorous during breeding season. Plant material has less protein which is required for the chicks to grow fast and strong.

The name Passeriformes derives from Greek – Passer = Sparrow, Formis = shape. They evolved in the Southern Hemisphere around 60 Mio years ago.
Most Passerines have 12 tail feathers.

The eggs are coloured in most species. The number of eggs vary from species to species. The chicks are altricial meaning they hedge blind, without feathers and are helpless. They have reflexes to sense when a parent is landing and open their beak wide to get fed. The beak is fringed with yellow skin to signal the feeding parent where to place food.

Suborder Tyranni – majority of the 1.000 species is found in Southern America
Infraorder Eurylaimides are found in tropical regions around the Indian Ocean, only 1 species occurs in America. There are 5 families and we concentrate on those found in Africa, mainly East Africa and the horn of Africa.

Infraorder Eurylaimides has species found in tropical regions around the Indian Ocean, only 1 species occurs in America. There are 5 families and we concentrate on those found in Africa, mainly East Africa and the horn of Africa. Among them are Pittas and Broadbills

Family Pittidae – Pitta species are found Asia, Australasia and Africa. All over are 44 species. They are mostly colourful birds foraging on forest grounds. When disturbed they fly to mid storey and freeze. They need light to search their food which consists of earth worms and snails. Pittas are strongly territorial.

Family Calyptomenidae – African and Green Broadbills

is a family with species in Africa, Malay Peninsula and Borneo. There are only 6 Broadbill species in 2 genera. Broadbills are shy and fly into thickets where they remain motionless.

To give you as actual information as possible we use Avibase, the books “Birds of Africa South of the Sahara”, “Birds of East Africa”, “Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania”. Then we put the most characteristic information to the photo.

You can also follow us on Facebook “Bird photography Safaris Kenya” and see the numerous species as well as the beautiful photos from Lorenzo Barelli.
Click on the photo for larger view. The names of the photographers are on the photo and in the text. Without the generosity of several amazing bird photographers it had not been possible to create these pages with so many illustrated bird species. Those photos without name are from Elvira Wolfer.
Here you find samples of our birding safaris.

Pitta and Broadbills are rare, or only locally common and elusive birds. Besides knowing the movements of Pitta species and the whereabout of Broadbills it requires a good portion of luck to find them. Sometimes you can hear a Pitta or a Broadbill but to spot it is a different story. A good local birding guide is required to increase the chances.

Since some of the Pitta and Broadbill species are only found in Uganda in East Africa we would tailor-made our Uganda Safari

Green-breasted Pitta (Pitta reichenowi) is very uncommon in SW Uganda on forest grounds from 1.100 to 1.400 m. Photo Per Holmen, Kibale Forest

African Pitta (Pitta angolensis longipennis) is an extremely shy bird. They are migrants from W Africa to coastal Kenya and Tanzania, W Uganda and Southern Tanzania from May to September. They also breed in SE Tanzania.

African Broadbill, Black-capped Broadbill (Smithornis capensis medianus) is the subspecies found from C to SE Kenya, N to NE Tanzania. Photo Per Holmen, Karatu

African Broadbill, Black-capped Broadbill (Smithornis capensis meinertzhageni) occurs in W Kenya, Uganda and DRC. Photo Per Holmen, Kakamega Forest

African Broadbill, Black-capped Broadbill (Smithornis capensis ….) in EA are 5 similar subspecies. S. c. suahelicus is a coastal bird in Kenya and Tanzania. S. c. cryptoleucos occurs in S Tanzania. S. c. albigularis is found from W, S and C Tanzania.

Rufous-sided Broadbill (Smithornis rufolateralis budongoensis) is the subspecies from DRC to W Uganda in interior forests from 700 – 1.300 m. Photo Per Holmen, Semliki Forest

Grauer’s or African green Broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri) is endemic to montane forests along the Albertine Rift. Itombwe Mountains in DRC and SW Uganda at around 2.200 m. Photo Per Holmen, Bwindi impenetrable Forest