Until you see it from the front, the Cape Longclaw is a rather drab, cryptically-plumaged bird that resembles its close relatives – the pipits. But when it turns to face you, its luminous orange throat is nothing short of startling.
This common inhabitant of higher elevation grassland on the central plateau of South Africa, is often heard before it is seen – the cat-like ‘meeuw’ call being a characteristic sound of open country. Like other grassland birds, it nests close to the ground, laying three or four eggs in a shallow cup of stems built into a dense grass clump.
The hind claw is extremely long, giving the bird its family name and assisting it to move easily over flattened grass stems. Insects and spiders make up the bulk of its the diet.
Bongani Mabaso EcoPark, Sasolburg, South Africa. March 2013.