If you are ever in the bushveld or woodland and you hear a plaintive call that sounds like “three blind mice” then you are in the company of a Chinspot Batis. This is not a common garden bird, but it will enter gardens that border on well-wooded areas. The Chinspot Batis is found in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, North West and Limpopo. The Cape Batis replaces it in the Western Cape but can also be found in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The Cape Batis is easily identified as it has chestnut colouring on its flanks.
Why is it called a Chinspot Batis?
The male Chinspot Batis, as shown in the image, is black and white with a black band across its chest. The female has a brown band across her chest and a brown spot under her “chin.” The male does not have a chinspot. They are small birds with a length of around 12 cm and a wingspan of similar width. They only weigh around 10 to 14 grams.
The Chinspot Batis is quite a confiding bird and will sometimes allow you to get quite close. They are normally found in pairs or solitary birds. They spend much of their time searching the foliage of shrubs and trees for prey which consists of small insects and spiders. To the best of my knowledge, they will not feed at a feeding table. Even though you can’t lure them away from the preferred feeding spots they still make delightful visitors to a garden.
Where and when do they nest?
The breeding season varies from region-to-region September to February. They make a cup-shaped nest from plant fibres, held together with spider web, and then lined with lichen. The nest is often placed on a horizontal branch somewhere between 1 and 4 metres above the ground. Most often 2 eggs are laid. The female incubates the eggs and then both parents feed the nestlings. Once fledged the chicks will remain with their parents for 2 months or so.