Bird of the Week – Week 132 – Black-chested prinia

Although it is a near-endemic within the southern African region, the delightful Black-chested prinia is quite common within the region. A small bird, with a length of approximately 14 cm, they have pale brown upper parts; white chin and throat; and pale yellow under parts. The tail is long and graduated; eyes are brown; legs and feet pinkish and the bill is black. During the breeding season the males have a dark chest band, which may be less distinctive or even absent when the birds are not breeding.

Black-chested prinia

In the southern African region they are absent from the eastern and southern parts of the region, limiting themselves to the drier west, north and central areas. Their preferred habitat is arid scrub and savanna. They are conspicuous birds, usually found singly or in pairs and are quite tame, making sightings fairly common. Their call is a loud “chip-chip-chip” and once heard they can usually be seen.

Black-chested prinia

Black-chested prinias feed while hopping about in low bushes, catching moths, aphids caterpillars and the like. They also feed on nectar from aloes and other plants.

Black-chested prinia

Black chested-prinias are monogamous and build a pear-shaped nest with a side entrance placed near the top. The nest is built from grass and placed quite low down in a thorny shrub or tree. The females lay a clutch of two to six greenish-blue eggs that hatch after an incubation period of approximately 14 days. The nest may be parasitized by the Cuckoo finch (Anomalospiza imberbis).

Black-chested prinia

The scientific binomial for the Black-chested prinia is Prinia flavicans; Prinia being the Javanese name for the Prinia and flavicans from the Latin for “tending to be yellow”. Thus a Prinia which tends to be yellow, which is an accurate if somewhat odd name for this delightful little bird.

Black-chested prinia

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