Family African and Green Broadbills (Calyptomenidae)

Least Concern

African Broadbill (Smithornis capensis)


French: Eurylaime du Cap German: Schwarzscheitel-Breitrachen Spanish: Eurilaimo africano

Platyrhynchus capensis

A. Smith

, 1839,

south-east coast towards Delagoa Bay; error = coastal forests between St Lucia Estuary and mouth of River Tugela, Zululand, South Africa


Relationships of various, scattered populations poorly understood; taxonomy in need of review. Range limits of races unclear in some areas, and apparent gaps in distribution, particularly through C forests, possibly due to lack of observation; identification of Central African Republic birds as camarunensis tentative. Isolated populations in NE Limpopo, South Africa, may represent undescribed race#R. In SE Kenya, proposed form chyulu (Chyulu Hills) included in medianus, and shimba (Shimba Hills) in suahelicus. Nine subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. c. delacouri Bannerman, 1923 – Guinea, Sierra Leone and N Liberia E to Ghana; recorded in Togo.
  • S. c. camarunensis Sharpe, 1905 – SE Nigeria, S Cameroon, possibly Equatorial Guinea (Mbini), Gabon, NW Congo and locally in S & E Central African Republic.
  • S. c. albigularis E. J. O. Hartert, 1904 – W & N Angola; SE DRCongo and W (probably also C) Tanzania S to N Zambia and N Malawi.
  • S. c. meinertzhageni van Someren, 1919 – NE DRCongo, Rwanda, Uganda and W Kenya.
  • S. c. medianus E. J. O. Hartert & van Someren, 1916 – C Kenya and NE Tanzania.
  • S. c. suahelicus Grote, 1926 – coastal SE Kenya, E Tanzania and NE Mozambique.
  • S. c. conjunctus Clancey, 1963 – NE Namibia (Caprivi Strip), N Botswana, S Zambia, N & W Zimbabwe and NW Mozambique.
  • S. c. cryptoleucus Clancey, 1963 – SW Tanzania, S Malawi, E Zimbabwe, and C & S Mozambique S to NE South Africa (Limpopo Province, NE KwaZulu-Natal) and E Swaziland.
  • S. c. capensis (A. Smith, 1839) – coastal SE KwaZulu-Natal Province, in E South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–14 cm; male 21–26·9 g, female 17·4–27·5 g (South Africa), unsexed 20–31 g. A stocky, short-tailed bird with distinctive broad... read more


    A “twee-uu” call probably as contact, or as alarm or distress call; weak, plaintive,... read more


    Broader range of habitats than other African broadbills: lower storeys of evergreen forest,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including orthopterans, Coleoptera adults and larvae, hemipteran bugs, ants, caterpillars, butterfly eggs; also spiders. Sallies... read more


    Season probably long, at least 6 months, in W & C Africa, with breeding recorded in Feb–Apr in Liberia, Mar–Jul in Cameroon... read more


    Resident; it has recently been suggested that some local seasonal or altitudinal movements in NE... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common in much of its range, but becoming scarce in many areas and disappearing from others. Present in several protected areas. In S Africa... read more

    Recommended citation

    Bruce, M.D. (2018). African Broadbill (Smithornis capensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 November 2018).