Long-billed Crombec (Sylvietta rufescens)

It is a smallish, plump, seemingly tailless bird, with brownish-gray upperparts, light brownish-orange underpart. Pairs are often seen hopping along branches, foraging for invertebrates, or consuming plant matter. The bird species thrive in woodlands, savannas, gardens, scrubs, and thickets.

Read further to know more about the Long-billed Crombec.

What is a Long-billed Crombec?

Long-billed Crombec (Sylvietta rufescens) or Cape Crombec is an African warbler belonging to the Macrosphenidae family. It is a sedentary bird, with a broad southern African range, occurring in DR Congo to Zambia, Tanzania, and down to South Africa.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Macrosphenidae

Genus: Sylvietta

Species: S. rufescens

Long-billed Crombec Physical Description

Long-billed Crombec is smallish, stout bird, growing from 3.9 to 4.3 inches, and weighing around 9 to 14 grams. It has brownish-gray upperparts, with dull endings to the upper wing feathers. Underparts are light brownish-orange. Crown, head, forehead, nape, and ear-coverts are all brownish-gray. Meanwhile, chin, cheeks, and throat have a buffy-white tone. The supercilium is creamy-white then a dark gray band occurs across the light brownish eye. As its name suggests, this bird possesses the longest bill of all the crombecs found in southern Africa. Eyes are light brownish. Legs and feet can vary from flesh-pink to pinkish-brown. Males and females look similar. Juvenile and immature birds have duller rufous underpart.

Where can they be spotted?

Long-billed Crombec occurs in woodlands, savannas, gardens, scrubs, and thickets. It is spread throughout southern Africa, can be found in DR Congo to Zambia, Tanzania, and down to South Africa. This bird is usually seen on lower elevation habitats below 1500 meters but can occur up to 2000 meters in certain parts of its range.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Long-billed Crombec

Long-billed Crombec feeds primarily on insects, such as ticks, mantids, caterpillars, and beetles, and plant matter, mostly grass seeds. It searches for food in trees and bushes, from the lower part to the upper part of the vegetation, getting its food from leaves and twigs, while hopping on trunks and branches.

Breeding season happens between the end of the dry period and the start of the rainy season when there is a surfeit of insects, their primary food.

The nest is characterized by a sturdy, deep bag, hanging from a slender thornbush or tree branch, made of grass, stems, and fibers. Then, the interior is lined with finer plant matter. Meanwhile, the exterior is accentuated with leaves, wood pieces, seeds, bark, pupae, and cocoons, deemed to serve as a camouflage. An entrance is located on the top.

The female long-billed crombec lays a clutch consisting of 1-3 eggs, which both sexes will incubate for approximately two weeks. The parents feed chicks after hatching. After two weeks, broods will be able to leave the nest and soon become independent, around ten days later.

Long-billed Crombecs have a wide range, and their population size does not reach thresholds the decline criterion. The species is currently classified as Least Concern under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.



Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Chobe National Park

Linyanti Swamp

Makgadikgadi Pan

Mashatu Game Reserve

Okavango Delta

Moremi Game Reserve



Addo Elephant National Park

Cape Peninsula National Park

Hluhluwe Game Reserves

Kalahari Gemsbok National Park

Knysna Lagoon

Kruger National Park

Madikwe Game Reserve

St Lucia Wetlands


Caprivi Region


Etosha National Park

Namib-Naukluft National Park

Skeleton Coast



Lechwe Plains

Lower Zambezi

South Luangwa

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park




Lake Kariba

Mana Pools

Matobo Hills

Victoria Falls


Long-billed Crombec