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the web of life in southern Africa

Batis capensis (Cape batis) 

Kaapse bosbontrokkie [Afrikaans]; Ingedle, Unongedle [Xhosa]; uDokotela, umNqube [Zulu]; Bruinflank-vliegenvanger [Dutch]; Pririt du Cap [French]; Kapschnäpper [German]; Batis do Cabo [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Malaconotidae

Batis capensis (Cape batis) Batis capensis (Cape batis) 

Cape batis male, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Cape batis female, Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ©].

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi to southern Africa. Here it is locally common in eastern Zimbabwe bordering on Mozambique, south-central Zimbabwe, Limpopo Province, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape. Highly adaptable, it occupies a wide range of habitats, such as Afromontane and Evergreen forest, closed woodland, valley bushveld, Acacia woodland along watercourses, plantations, orchards and gardens.

Distribution of Cape batis in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Klaas's cuckoo.


It eats a variety of insect prey, doing most of its foraging in the lower branches of trees or bushes, gleaning prey from leaves or bark. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Both sexes construct the nest (see image below), which is a small, thickly-walled cup, made of dry plant material bound together by spider web, lined with fine plant detritus or hair. It is usually placed on a horizontal branch of small shrub, about 1-9, usually 3 metres above ground. Nests aren't usually concealed by vegetation, but they are often difficult to find due to very dark lighting conditions.
Batis capensis (Cape batis) 

Cape batis male (left) and female (right) at their nest. [photo Peter Steyn ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from August-January, peaking from October-December.
  • It lays 1-3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female, for about 17-21 days with the male bringing her food.
  • The chicks are mainly brooded by the female, who feeds them and herself with food provided by the male. They are brooded and fed at greater intervals as they get older, until eventually they leave the nest at about 16 days old.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.