home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Lioptilus nigricapillus (Bush blackcap) 

Rooibektiptol [Afrikaans]; Kaapse zwartkaptimalia [Dutch]; Lioptile ŗ calotte noire [French]; Buschschwarzkšppchen [German]; Barrete-preto-do-mato [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: Sylviidae

Lioptilus nigricapillus (Bush blackcap)  Lioptilus nigricapillus (Bush blackcap)

Bush blackcap, Sani Pass, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Bush blackcap juvenile, Heidelberg, Gauteng, South Africa (about 200 km from its normal distribution range. [photo Johann du Preez ©]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to South Africa and western Swaziland, it is uncommon to locally common in Afromontane forest patches, especially if fringed by scrubby hillsides or thickets. In winter it sometimes moves into coastal forest and valley bushveld.

Distribution of Bush blackcap 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.  


Its diet is not well known, however it is thought to mainly eat fruit, supplemented with insects gleaned from vegetation.


  • The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a neat cup of forbs, grass, leaf petioles, twigs and rootlets. It is typically placed in a fork in the upper branches of a tree or shrub, often near watercourses.
Lioptilus nigricapillus (Bush blackcap)  

Bush blackcap at its nest, Wakkerstroom, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from November-January.
  • It lays about 2 eggs, usually coloured dull white with streaked brown markings.
  • Both adults care for the chicks, however they are strangely tame and unperturbed by any intruders near the nest, not even bothering to perform distraction displays.


Not threatened, as much of its preferred habitat is in protected areas.


  • 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.