|Displaying D. gambensis male|
F. Boie, 1826
Dryoscopus is a genus of bird in the Malaconotidae or bushshrike family. The six species of fairly uniform appearance and habits, are all native to various parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The name Dryoscopus is a compound Greek word: drus from the Greek word for "tree" and skopos, meaning "watcher or lookout".
Structure and habits
They are small, active bushshrikes that show a superficial resemblance to boubous. They however display only rudimentary duetting, have red or reddish irides, are smaller and compact with bouncy flight, and display sexual dimorphism. Characteristically, the long, loose and pale feathers of the male bird's back and rump are puffed out conspicuously during display. At the same time he may fly about, calling loudly. Comparable habits are found in some related genera (cf. Bocagia, Bias, Lanioturdus, Batis and Dyaphorophyia).
They move about in pairs in the upper strata of trees (Pringle's excepting) and may join mixed-species flocks. They command a varied repertoire of explosive and fricative whistles, percussive clicking sounds, and harsh rasping, churring or tearing sounds. Three species have a rasping alarm call (cubla, senegalensis and pringlii), while the remaining three (gambensis, angolensis and sabini) have a stuttering alarm call. Wing fripping and bill snapping complement vocal communication. The nest is a neat compact cup in the general fashion of bushshrikes, but similar to those of shrike-flycatchers. Courtship feeding is present, and studied species are monogamous and single-brooded.
DNA-DNA hybridization studies suggest that genus Tchagra is their closest relative, though biological traits also link them to Laniarius, shrike-flycatchers (i.e. Bias and Megabyas) and other genera.
The genus contains the following six species:
- Pink-footed puffback (Dryoscopus angolensis) – isolated montane and submontane forests
- Black-backed puffback (Dryoscopus cubla) – tropical to austral woodlands and afromontane forest
- Northern puffback (Dryoscopus gambensis) – equatorial to sub-Saharan wooded savannah
- Pringle's puffback (Dryoscopus pringlii) – dry, equatorial acacia scrub and thicket
- Sabine's puffback (Dryoscopus sabini) – tropical forest of Congo basin and West African coast
- Red-eyed puffback (Dryoscopus senegalensis) – mid-canopy at tropical forest edge and clearings
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- ""ITIS Report: Dryoscopus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 20 October 2014.