The bird is in the monotypic genus Mystacornis. The species is an example of convergent evolution: its bill and body shape adapted to its habit of looking for insect prey in the leaf litter, eventually becoming so similar to that of ground-babblers that early naturalists initially classified the Crossley's vanga into what was then known as the Timaliidae family (the babbler family).
Crossley's vanga is a small babbler-like bird, 15 cm long and weighing around 25 g. Its most distinctive feature is the olive-grey bill, which is disproportionately long and slightly hooked at the end. The plumage of the male is olive green on the crown, back, wings, tail and flanks, a grey belly, black throat and face, with a white submoustachial stripe and grey stripe above the eye. The legs are grey and the iris black. The female is similar but with a white throat and belly.
The breeding season for this species is from August to November. The male builds a shallow cup nest of twigs and rootlets in a tree or other vegetation around 1.5 m off the ground. Two to three eggs are laid and incubated by both sexes.
It forages singly or in pairs. It is a terrestrial bird that feeds on the ground on spiders, cockroaches, earwigs, true bugs, grasshoppers and ants. It rarely flies but instead walks and runs and probing its bill into leaf-litter, mosses, and soil.
Distribution and habitat
- BirdLife International. 2016. Mystacornis crossleyi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22716772A94510337. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22716772A94510337.en. Downloaded on 31 July 2018.
- Collar, N. J. & Robson, C. 2007. Family Timaliidae (Babblers) pp. 70–291 in; del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Christie, D.A. eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 12. Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
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