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Calyptomenidae – African and Green Broadbills

African Broadbill in South Africa: Photo by “Lisa & Li Li”

The Calyptomenidae family, found in tropical Africa and Southeast Asia, consists of seven species of broadbills. These birds are known for their vibrant plumage, broad beaks, and preference for dense forest habitats where they forage for insects and fruit. Despite their striking appearance, they are often elusive, remaining hidden in the forest canopy.

Overview of Calyptomenidae

These mid-sized passerines, characterized by their large heads, short legs, small feet, and broad bills, come in two distinct types. The green broadbills, native to Asian forests, are closely associated with fruiting trees. Their bright green plumage blends seamlessly into the canopy, and their quiet, stationary behavior makes them difficult to spot. They have profuse velvety forehead plumes that almost obscure their bills. In contrast, their African cousins have bare bills and dull-colored plumages with earthy streaks and patches. These African birds are active insectivores, differing markedly from the fruit-eating habits of the green broadbills.