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Black-capped donacobius

Black-capped donacobius
In Piraju, São Paulo, Brazil
Note lower bird displaying yellow neck patch
Song of Black-capped Donacobius
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Superfamily: Sylvioidea
Family: Donacobiidae
Aleixo & Pacheco, 2006
Genus: Donacobius
Swainson, 1831
D. atricapilla
Binomial name
Donacobius atricapilla
All-year range

Turdus atricapilla Linnaeus, 1766

The black-capped donacobius (Donacobius atricapilla) is a conspicuous, vocal South American bird. It is distributed across the northern half of South America.


Little rush warbler (Bradypterus baboecala), possibly one of the closest living relatives of the donacobius

In 1760 the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson included a description of the black-capped donacobius in his Ornithologie based on a specimen that he mistakenly believed had been collected from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. He used the French name Le merle a test noire de Cap de Bonne Espérance and the Latin Merula Atricapilla Capitis Bonae Spei.[2] Although Brisson coined Latin names, these do not conform to the binomial system and are not recognised by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature.[3] When in 1766 the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus updated his Systema Naturae for the twelfth edition, he added 240 species that had been previously described by Brisson.[3] One of these was the black-capped donacobius. Linnaeus included a brief description, coined the binomial name Turdus atricapilla and cited Brisson's work.[4] The type location was subsequently corrected to eastern Brazil.[5] The specific name atricapilla is Latin for "black-haired" from ater "black" and capillus "hair of the head".[6] This species is now placed in the genus Donacobius that was introduced by the English naturalist William John Swainson in 1831.[7] The name of the genus is from Ancient Greek donakos "reed" and bios "mode of life".[8]

The black-capped donacobius is the only member of the genus Donacobius, but its familial placement has gone through several changes. In the 19th century, it was placed in the Turdidae, and in the 20th century, moved to the Mimidae. It had various English names, including the "black-capped mockingthrush". In the 1980s and 1990s, suggestions that it was a type of wren (Troglodytidae) were accepted by the South American Classification Committee (SACC), the American Ornithological Society (AOS) and most other authorities. Since at least 2018, the major taxonomic schemes place it in its own family, Donacobiidae, and list it following the reed warblers of the family Acrocephalidae.[9][10][11][12][13][14]


Black-capped donacobiuses are common in a wide range of Amazonian wetlands, including oxbow lakes, riparian zones, and other areas with tall dense aquatic or semi-aquatic vegetation. A third of the species range is outside the Amazon Basin, from Panama, northern Colombia, and western Venezuela, the Orinoco River system of Venezuela, to southeast coastal and inland Brazil, and neighboring countries southward, Paraguay, and extreme northern Argentina.


Mating for life, pairs of black-capped donacobiuses can be seen frequently and throughout the day atop thickets of dense lakeside or streamside vegetation. They often will engage in antiphonic dueting. Adult offspring will remain with their parents and help raise siblings from subsequent nesting periods in a system of cooperative breeding.[15]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2020). "Donacobius atricapilla". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020: e.T22711273A137569350. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T22711273A137569350.en. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  2. ^ Brisson, Mathurin Jacques (1760). Ornithologie, ou, Méthode contenant la division des oiseaux en ordres, sections, genres, especes & leurs variétés (in French and Latin). Vol. Supplement. Paris: Jean-Baptiste Bauche. pp. 47–50, Plate 3 fig 2. The two stars (**) at the start of the section indicates that Brisson based his description on the examination of a specimen.
  3. ^ a b Allen, J.A. (1910). "Collation of Brisson's genera of birds with those of Linnaeus". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 28: 317–335. hdl:2246/678.
  4. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1766). Systema naturae : per regna tria natura, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin). Vol. 1, Part 1 (12th ed.). Holmiae (Stockholm): Laurentii Salvii. p. 295.
  5. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Greenway, James C. Jr, eds. (1960). Check-list of Birds of the World. Vol. 9. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 456.
  6. ^ Jobling, J.A. (2018). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  7. ^ Swainson, William John (1831). Zoological illustrations, or, Original figures and descriptions of new, rare, or interesting animals. Series 2. Vol. 2. London: Baldwin, Cradock. Plate 49 text.
  8. ^ Jobling, J.A. (2018). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  9. ^ Gill, F.; Donsker, D.; Rasmussen, P. (January 2020). "IOC World Bird List (v 10.1)". Retrieved February 8, 2020.
  10. ^ Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from Retrieved August 15, 2019
  11. ^ "Check-list of North and Middle American Birds". American Ornithological Society. July 2019. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  12. ^ Remsen, J. V., Jr., J. I. Areta, E. Bonaccorso, S. Claramunt, A. Jaramillo, J. F. Pacheco, C. Ribas, M. B. Robbins, F. G. Stiles, D. F. Stotz, and K. J. Zimmer. Version 8 June 2020. A classification of the bird species of South America. American Ornithological Society. retrieved June 9, 2020
  13. ^ HBW and BirdLife International (2018) Handbook of the Birds of the World and BirdLife International digital checklist of the birds of the world. Version 3. Available at:
  14. ^ Christidis et al. 2018. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, version 4.1 (Downloadable checklist). Accessed from Archived 2020-06-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ "Donacobius page".
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Black-capped donacobius
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