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Philippine Creepers: Rhabdornithidae

Stripe-headed Rhabdornis (rhabdornis Mysticalis): Species Account

Physical characteristics: Stripe-headed rhabdornises (sometimes called the stripe-sided rhabdornises) are 5.7 to 6.2 inches (14.5 to 15.8 centimeters) long, and weigh between 2.75 and 3.00 ounces (78 to 85 grams). Both sexes are colored in a similar way, but males are larger in size than females. Generally, stripe-headed rhabdornises have black bills, dark brown eyes, and dark legs. Adult males have a blackish brown crown (top part of the head) and nape (back part of the neck) with many white streaks, a broad strip through the eye, while the face and the rest of the neck are blackish brown. Adult females differ from males in having a lighter brown crown and face. Both sexes have a striated head (marked with narrow parallel bands).

Stripe-headed rhabdornises are active during the day, and often flock together in groups of up to twenty-five individuals. (Illustration by John Megahan. Reproduced by permission.)

Geographic range: Stripe-headed rhabdornises range in the Philippine Islands of Luzon, Negros, Panay, Masbate, Contanduenes, Leyte, Mindanao, Samar, Basilan, Bohol, Calicoan, and Dinagat.

Habitat: Stripe-headed rhabdornises live throughout the major Philippine Islands in tropical forests from sea level up to an elevation of about 3,900 feet (1,200 meters). They generally prefer lowland forests and second growth forests, and are usually found within the canopy or middle story of the trees.

Diet: Stripe-headed rhabdornises primarily eat insects, along with nectar, fruits, and seeds found within their forest habitat. Stripe-headed rhabdornises forage (search for food) along limbs, checking crevices with their thin pointed, down-curved bills in order to remove insects from tree bark. They then use their brush-tipped tongues for the removal of nectar within flowers.

Behavior and reproduction: Stripe-headed rhabdornises are very active during the day. They occupy the canopy and middle story of primary forests, forest edges, and secondary growth. Groups of the birds themselves or groups of the birds along with other bird species often flock together in numbers up to twenty-five individuals. At dusk, they usually roost in large groups of up to several hundreds of birds. The call of the stripe-headed rhabdornises is an uninteresting, high-pitched "tsee tsee WICK tsee," with the "tsee" called out softly but the "WICK" spoken sharp and loud. The reproduction habits of the birds are largely unknown. They are believed to nest in cavities (hollow areas) and holes of trees.

Stripe-headed rhabdornises and people: Stripe-headed rhabdornises have no special significance to people.

Conservation status: Stripe-headed rhabdornises are not threatened. They are commonly found throughout a restricted range of the Philippine islands. However, as the native forests of the Philippines decrease due to increased and continuing activities of humans, the size and condition of the habitat of the birds is being negatively affected. Stripe-headed rhabdornises, thus, are less able to adequately cope with their changing environment. ∎



del Hoyo, Josep, Andrew Elliott, Jordi Sargatal, et al, eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, 1992.

Dickinson, Edward C., ed. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, 3rd ed. Princeton, NJ and Oxford, U.K.: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Harrison, Colin James Oliver. Birds of the World. London and New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1993.

Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopedia of Birds, 2nd ed. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1998.

Perrins, Christopher M., and Alex L. A. Middleton, eds. The Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Facts on File, 1985.

Web sites:

Birdwatch.ph. The Official Website of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines. http://www.birdwatch.ph/gallery/stripeheadedrhabdornis.html (accessed on April 19, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsPhilippine Creepers: Rhabdornithidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Stripe-headed Rhabdornis (rhabdornis Mysticalis): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, PHILIPPINE CREEPERS AND PEOPLE