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Black Spinetail - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Chapin's Spinetail; Chapin's Spine-tailed Swift; Ituri Spinetail; Ituri Spine-tailed Swift

Telacanthura melanopygia


With 15cm a rather large Spinetail

  • Spinetail winge shape: hooked in outer wing and bulging in midwing
  • Dark black-brown plumage, some underwing contrast and paler mottling on throat
  • Square tail, looking rounded when spread
  • Retrix spines up to 6mm beyond web


Found in the rainforest zone of Africa, from Angola over Congo, Central African Republic, Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria and from Ghana to Sierra Leone.
Maybe sometimes overlooked, but seems to be rare throughout its range.


Has been placed in genus Chaetura or in genus Rhaphidura.


Rainforest zone, there found in various habitats, primary and secondary forest, also plantations.



Feeds on insects, eg winged ants, taken in flight. Usually seen foraging low singly or in groups. Sometimes together with other Swifts or Square-tailed Sawwing.


Not much data about breeding. Copulation noted in flight, nest probably in tree hollows and in crags above forest.

Movements also unclear. Considered by some to be a resident, others think it could be an afrotropical migrant. Some wandering occurs.


  1. Clements, JF. 2008. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2008. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019.

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.