Family Pipits and Wagtails (Motacillidae)

Least Concern

Cape Longclaw (Macronyx capensis)


French: Sentinelle du Cap German: Kappieper Spanish: Bisbita de El Cabo
Other common names: Orange-throated Longclaw

Alauda capensis


, 1766,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


Races stabilior and colletti merged within nominate by some authors. Proposed race latimerae (Eastern Cape) included in colletti. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. c. stabilior Clancey, 1952 – Zimbabwe (C plateau E to Inyanga Mts) and adjacent Mozambique.
  • M. c. colletti Schou, 1908 – extreme SE Botswana, E South Africa (Northern and C North West Provinces S to N Eastern Cape), Swaziland and Lesotho.
  • M. c. capensis (Linnaeus, 1766) – coastal belt of SW & S South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–21 cm; male 49·2–55 g, female 45·2–52·2 g, unsexed 40–55 g. Large, chunky, short-tailed longclaw with reddish to orange throat... read more


    Song, in flight, a series of clear, piping, far-carrying “dweet” or “deweet... read more


    Favours short, usually dry, grassland in cool climates, but in some areas moist grassland, often... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food includes wide range of insects, both adults and larvae; also some grass seeds (Gramineae). Stomachs contained grasshoppers (Acrididae... read more


    Sept–Mar, mostly Nov–Feb, in Zimbabwe, and from Sept in Mozambique; in South Africa, Aug–Apr (mainly Nov–Jan) in N... read more


    Resident; some post-breeding altitudinal movements.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common throughout much of range; less abundant in Lesotho than in adjacent low-lying areas. Uncommon in lowlands and midlands of KwaZulu-Natal... read more

    Recommended citation

    Tyler, S. (2020). Cape Longclaw (Macronyx 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 24 February 2020).