Working for birds in Africa

Observations on the biology of the Ethiopian Bush Crow Zavattariornis stresemanni.

p 178-188

Ethiopian Bush Crow Zavattariornis stresemanni has an extremely small range in southern Ethiopia and its survival is threatened by habitat change. It is treated as Endangered in the IUCN Red Data List, and very little is known of its biology. During field work in the Yabello region in February - March 2005 new data were collected, particularly concerning its  comportment, social behaviour and habitat requirements. The bird was found to have the remarkable ability of displacing die feathers around and behind the eye, to expose a naked, flesh-coloured triangle of skin, whilst the otherwise round iris was vertically narrowed. This appeared to be a form of expression used only in particular contexts (e.g. when threatened or aroused). It is unknown in any other bird species. The species' behavioural repertoire includes allofeeding and allopreening, both of which were frequently observed. Feeding behaviour suggests that a crucial habitat requirement is the presence of loosely packed, relatively deep soil with the associated presence of a preferred food resource (beetle larvae). This would explain both the concentration of bush crow breeding pairs in thinned-out Acacia stands and its high density adjacent to freshly ploughed fields, and is probably the reason why the area inhabited by Zavattariornis is so restricted.

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