The Yellow-bellied eremomela is found quite widely through the southern African region, and, indeed, through large parts of Africa northward to Sudan, although it is not found in the forests of the central and western parts of the continent. It is often found in acacia woodlands and more sparsely wooded savanna, but may venture into gardens on occasion.
The Yellow-bellied eremomela is a small bird with a length of about 10 cm. It has largely grey upperparts that are darker on the wings and tail. The breast is grey and the belly lemon yellow. The bill is black; eyes red-brown to brown; legs and feet are grey to black. Males and females are alike in both size and plumage coloration.
It is a solitary bird and so it is usually found alone or sometimes in pairs or in small groups. It may sometimes join groups of mixed bird species while feeding. Not an easy bird to photograph, though, as it moves continually through bushes and trees, seldom pausing and seldom showing itself clearly. Typical behaviour for the leaf gleaner that it is.
The Yellow-bellied eremomela feeds by gleaning from leaves and twigs, feeding mainly on termites, caterpillars, but also on fruit, seeds and nectar. The bird’s call is a quick “chicku-chichu-chee” and it seems to be quite vocal throughout the year.
The Yellow-bellied eremomela is monagamous and constructs a thin walled nest of grass held together with spider webs that it suspends from the outer branches of a tree. The female lays a clutch of two or three white eggs that hatch after an incubation period of approximately 14 days. It is occasionally parasitized by Klaas’s cuckoo (Chrysococcyx klaas).
The scientific binomial for the Yellow-bellied eremomela is Eremomela icteropygialis; Eremomela from the Greek for “a desert song” and icteropygialis from the Greek for “yellow rump”. Thus a bird with a yellow rump that sings a desert song. Well, it is the belly that is yellow rather than the rump, and I have no idea how “chicku-chichu-chee” can be construed as a desert song, but then, who am I to judge? Certanly not Def Leppard’s “Desert Song” though!