home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Macronyx croceus (Yellow-throated longclaw) 

Geelkeelkalkoentjie [Afrikaans]; iGwili, iNqomfi [Zulu]; Ligwinsi, Licomfi [Swazi]; Holiyo, Hwiyo (generic terms for longclaw) [Tsonga]; Geelkeel-langklauw [Dutch]; Sentinelle à gorge jaune [French]; Gelbkehlgroßsporn, Safrangroßsporn [German]; Unha-longa-amarelo [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Motacillidae > Genus: Macronyx

Macronyx croceus (Yellow-throated longclaw)  Macronyx croceus (Yellow-throated longclaw)

Yellow-throated longclaw. [photo Jim Scarff ©]

Yellow-throated longclaw, East Africa. [photo Jessica P. Opfer ©]

Distribution and habitat

The most widespread of the longclaws, occurring in patches of sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Uganda (absent from the DRC) south through Tanzania and Malawi to southern Africa. Here it is locally common in eastern Zimbabwe, Mozambique and eastern South Africa, from Limpopo province to KwaZulu-Natal, marginally extending into the Eastern Cape. It generally prefers medium to tall grassland and the edges of vleis, but it may move into overgrazed and burnt grassland.

Distribution of Yellow-throated longclaw in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


It mainly eats insects and other invertebrates, doing most of its foraging on the ground, plucking food from grass and occasionally hawking prey aerially. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous territorial solitary nester, with males performing an aerial display in which they slowly fly in a circle with tail spread.
  • The nest is built by the female, consisting of a thick-walled cup of coarse grass blades and stems, lined with fine grass and rootlets. It is typically concealed in rank grass, such as in the photo below.
Macronyx croceus (Yellow-throated longclaw)  

Yellow-throated longclaw at the entrance to its nest, Eastern Shore, St Lucia, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from September-March, peaking from November-January.
  • It lays 1-4 eggs, which are mainly or solely incubated by the female for about 13-14 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 16-17 days, when they are able to run fast but have yet to fly properly.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.