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Why do African Broadbills have such a poor breeding success? (Local News)
 
Thick tailed Bushbaby near a broadbill nestThe enigmatic African Broadbill's behaviour of typically sitting silent and motionless for extended periods, usually in the dense under storey. This means its presence in a particular area is often overlooked. For example between 1976 and 1985 there were only two records of the species in north-eastern Venda. The species then went unrecorded in the same area during the Southern African Bird Atlas Project from the late 1980's to early 1990's. The species was then "rediscovered" in October 1999 when a female was caught in a mistnet near Levubu. Given the species' retiring nature and inconspicuousness when it is not calling, it is hardly surprising that relatively little is known about it, in particular of its breeding habits. Since 2007 I have been studying various aspects of the breeding biology of the species at Golwe in Venda and Roodewal State Forest in the Soutpansberg. Thanks to two Limpopo Birding routes guides, Christopher Nethonzhe and Samson Mulaudzi who are exceptionally skilful at finding their nests, we are piecing the puzzles together.

A broadbill in its nestOur initial efforts focussed on studying basing breeding parameters such as the duration of the incubation (15-16 days) and nestling (13-15 days) periods, diet of nestlings, roles of the sexes and their breeding success. Surprisingly, they have a dismal success rate at both sites - about 12% over all years! But what are the causes of nest failure? Well, we knew it was predation, but who were the culprits? The main suspects were Vervet Monkeys and Baboons. To determine who the main nest predators are, we placed trail cameras near nests. The results surprised us as the main culprit seems to be the Thick-tailed Bushbaby. Other predators caught on camera include baboon and an African Goshawk. All this information contribute to our growing understanding of the ecology and threats faced by the species in the Limpopo Province, which will help us to conserve this enigmatic species.
 
 
Compiled by: Derek Engelbrecht  
Published on: 2015-02-03  
 
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