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Topic : Land Birds

Article 19 bullet 28 January 2007

Barred Wren-Warbler nest observations

by Warwick Tarboton

Barred Wren-Warbler Calamonastes fasciolatus or Barred Warbler as it used to be called, is one of the more difficult warblers to see and to get to grips with in the field. Three fairly similar species of Calamonastes warblers occur in dry woodland and thornveld regions of sub-Saharan Africa, two of them in southern Africa. Till now, very few good photos have been made available for birders to enjoy.

Barred Wren-Warbler perched in front of nest that is stitched into surrounding green leaves


Like Camaropteras, wren-warblers sew their nests together in growing or dead leaves by binding and stitching with spider web. The end result is neatly lined ball-shaped nest (with side entrance), completely covered by leaves and often decorated with cocoons. Nests are usually concealed in a low herb, grass tuft or low shrub.

Adult Barred Wren-Warbler delivering prey to chicks in the nest

Prey delivered to chicks  

In a 100 minute hide session (10h50-12h30), the three chicks (about 10 days old) were fed 15 times, apparently by one parent only (female?),  This gave an average feeding rate of 6.7 minutes per delivery. Thirteen of the fifteen prey items brought could be identified, all were small insects (<25 mm in length).

The most common prey was small green grasshoppers (katydids?) with long antennae (n=6); other items were: pale grey grasshopper (n=1), cockroach (n=1), spider (n=1), moth (n=1), smooth caterpillar (n=2) and hairy caterpillar (n=1).



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