An attractive little bird that is found in the wetter parts of southern Africa, and further north as far as Ethiopia, is the Yellow-breasted apalis. Although fairly common within the southern part of its range, it can be quite difficult to locate as it favours woodlands, riparian forests and other patches of quiet bush. In Namibia it is found only in the north-west, along the perennial river system.
The Yellow-breasted apalis is small, just about 12 cm in length, with the males being slightly larger than the females. They are olive green above, with a white throat and white belly separated by a broad yellow band. Some of the races have a central black breast band at the lower edge of the yellow, but this may be poorly developed or missing in the females. Their crowns and the sides of their faces are grey and they have long, graduated tails. Their eyes are red, bills are grey and legs and feet are pinkish-brown.
Usually found in pairs or small family groups, the Yellow-breasted apalis feeds mainly on insects and insect larvae which it gleans from the leaves of trees, often joining mixed bird parties and often frequenting the tree canopies while it feeds.
The males and females call as a duet, often from a high perch in the early morning. The males call “krunk-krunk-krunk” and the females respond “krik-krik-krik“. There is, however, a great deal of variability in the calls of different pairs, even within the same area.
The Yellow-breasted apalis is monogamous and builds a hanging nest, often made of lichen that is bound together with spider web. Usually lined with spider web or soft grass, it is shaped like a ball and has a side entrance located near the top. The females lay a clutch of two or three eggs that hatch after an incubation period of approximately 15 days.
The scientific binomial for the Yellow-breasted apalis is Apalis falvida; Apalis from the Greek for soft and flavida from the Latin for pale yellow. Thus we have a soft, pale yellow bird which is not a bad description of this cheerful little bird.