Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Bar-throated Apalis (Apalis thoracica)


French: Apalis à collier German: Halsband-Feinsänger Spanish: Apalis acollarado

Motacilla thoracica


, 1811,

Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa


Sometimes considered closely related to Oreolais pulcher and O. ruwenzorii, but genetic evidence indicates otherwise, and these species have ten (not twelve) rectrices. Until recently considered conspecific with A. flavigularis, A. lynesi and A. fuscigularis, and molecular evidence suggests these are, indeed, nested among other races of present species, despite their morphological distinctiveness. Many races in the largely contiguous populations of S Africa intergrade over considerable distances, suggesting synonymization appropriate, e.g. claudei and capensis could be subsumed into nominate, darglensis into venusta, lebomboensis into drakensbergensis, spelonkensis into flaviventris, and arnoldi into rhodesiae. However, there are three major genetic divisions among populations in S Africa: S of R Tugela, in South Africa; R Tugela to R Limpopo; and Zimbabwe. Proposed race iringae (Tanzania) merged with griseiceps. Full review desirable. Race whitei sometimes listed as bensoni, but that name preoccupied by a synonym of A. chapini strausae. Nineteen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. t. griseiceps Reichenow & Neumann, 1895 – SE Kenya and N & C Tanzania.
  • A. t. pareensis Ripley & Heinrich, 1966 – S Pare Mts, in NE Tanzania.
  • A. t. murina Reichenow, 1904 – NE & S Tanzania, N Malawi (Mafinga Mts, Misuku Hills) and adjacent NE Zambia.
  • A. t. uluguru Neumann, 1914 – Uluguru Mts, in E Tanzania.
  • A. t. youngi Kinnear, 1936 – SW Tanzania, N & NC Malawi (including Nyika Plateau) and adjacent NE Zambia.
  • A. t. whitei C. H. B. Grant & Mackworth-Praed, 1937 – E Zambia and SC & S Malawi.
  • A. t. rhodesiae Gunning & Roberts, 1911 – Zimbabwe Plateau.
  • A. t. quarta Irwin, 1966 – E Zimbabwe (Nyanga Mts) and S Mozambique (Mt Gorongosa).
  • A. t. arnoldi Roberts, 1936 – E highlands of Zimbabwe and adjacent Mozambique.
  • A. t. flaviventris Gunning & Roberts, 1911 – E Botswana and adjacent NE South Africa (E to Pretoria).
  • A. t. spelonkensis Gunning & Roberts, 1911 – highlands of Limpopo Province and N Mpumalanga, in NE South Africa.
  • A. t. drakensbergensis Roberts, 1937 – S Mpumalanga and N KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) and W Swaziland.
  • A. t. lebomboensis Roberts, 1931 – Lebombo Mts (on E Swaziland–S Mozambique–KwaZulu-Natal borders).
  • A. t. darglensis Gunning & Roberts, 1911 – midlands of KwaZulu-Natal (E South Africa).
  • A. t. venusta Gunning & Roberts, 1911 – S KwaZulu-Natal S to R Great Kei (E Eastern Cape).
  • A. t. thoracica (Shaw, 1811) – Eastern Cape from R Great Kei S to R Gamtoos (SE South Africa).
  • A. t. claudei W. L. Sclater, 1910 – Western Cape (from Knysna) E to W Eastern Cape (Humansdorp), in S South Africa.
  • A. t. capensis Roberts, 1936 – S coastal plain of Western Cape (S South Africa).
  • A. t. griseopyga Lawson, 1965 – W coastal plain of Western Cape (S South Africa).
  • Descriptive notes

    11–12 cm; male 9–14 g, female 8–12 g. An apalis of forest, woodland and thicket having narrow black band between whitish throat and breast; face usually... read more


    Typical male song a loud, fairly harsh “proep” or “tillup” note repeated... read more


    Wide variety of forest and woodland types, varying throughout range. In South Africa, in coastal... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet caterpillars and moth eggs (Lepidoptera), flies (Diptera), small grasshoppers (Orthoptera), weevils and other beetles and their larvae... read more


    Breeds Jul–Mar; mainly Jul–Oct in winter-rainfall area of SW South Africa, mainly Oct–Dec in remainder of range.... read more


    Mostly sedentary, but some winter movement to lower altitudes suspected in E Zimbabwe and higher-... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in most areas. Density in secondary forest in Udzungwa Mts, in Tanzania, 0·31 pairs/ha (0·93 birds/ha); up to 2 birds/ha in old... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. & Boesman, P. (2019). Bar-throated Apalis (Apalis thoracica). 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 September 2019).