The Grey-backed camaroptera was previously known as the Grey-backed bleating warbler, a descriptive name for the bleating alarm call of this little bird, which is not unlike the bleating of a lamb. Very vocal, with another loud, penetrating call that sounds like two stones being tapped together – kwit-kwit-kwit – little bird is probably more often heard than seen.
A small warbler with a length of just 13 cm, the sexes are alike in size and plumage. The head is grey, the back wings and tail are olive green; the throat is white; the bill black; legs and feet are pink and the eyes are brown. Generally solitary or found in pairs, the Grey-backed camaroptera is fairly common and prefers a habitat of thickets and riverine bush, or other dense growth. It may also be found in parks and gardens. Its range in the southern Africa region is limited to the northern part of the area, but its range also includes most of Africa south of the Sahara.
The Grey-backed camaroptera usually forages on the ground, gleaning from leaves and stems, eating insects such as butterflies, locusts, ants, bees and wasps. While on the ground, its tail is usually cocked over its back.
The Grey-backed camaroptera is monogamous, and is a solitary nester. During breeding they are very territorial and nests are widely spaced as a result. The ball-shaped nest with a top entrance, is built low down in a bush or tree, or even on the ground, and is always well hidden. It is constructed by binding growing leaves together with spider webs, and lining it with dry grass. The female lays two to four white to greenish-blue eggs that hatch after an incubation period of approximately 11 days. The nests of these little birds are parasitized by Klaas’s cuckoo, Diderick cuckoo and African emerald cuckoo.
The scientific binomial for the Grey-backed camaroptera is Camaroptera brevicaudata; Camaroptera from the Greek words for arched wings, and brevicaudata from the Latin for a short tail. Thus we have a bird with arched wings and a short tail. Well, it certainly does have a short tail, but I’m not sure about the arched wings.