Family Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae)

Least Concern

Silverbird (Melaenornis semipartitus)


French: Gobemouche argenté German: Silberschnäpper Spanish: Papamoscas plateado

Muscicapa semipartita


, 1840,

Gondar, Ethiopia


Often separated in monospecific Empidornis. Clinal increase in wing length, from 82–95 mm in Sudan to 95–101 mm in E Africa; proposed race kavirondensis (NE Uganda, W Kenya and Tanzania) considered to represent part of this cline. Monotypic.


SW & extreme S Sudan, South Sudan, SW Ethiopia (type collected in the NW at Gondar#R), N & E Uganda, W Kenya and N Tanzania (S to C Tabora and N Dodoma).

Descriptive notes

18 cm; 22–23 g. Has head and upperparts pale bluish-grey, on neck this colour extending forward in blunt point between throat and breast side; sometimes an olive-tinged... read more


Song sweet and rich, like that of a thrush (Turdus) or a robin-chat (Cossypha),... read more


Acacia (Acacia) grassland and semi-arid bushland with scattered large trees; occurs also... read more

Food and feeding

Insects, mostly small and wingless ones, including many ants (Formicidae); captive birds ate locusts (Acrididae) and coleopteran mealworms... read more


Breeds in wet and dry seasons; May–Aug in Sudan, and Apr–May and Sept–Feb in E Africa. Monogamous; solitary nester. Nest... read more


Normally resident; several extralimital and out-of-habitat records in Kenya and NE Tanzania suggest... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally common to abundant in much of its range; scarce to rare at N limits of range in Sudan and Ethiopia.

Recommended citation

Taylor, B. (2020). Silverbird (Melaenornis semipartitus). 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 31 March 2020).