The picathartes, rockfowl or bald crows are a small family of two passerine bird species found in the rain-forests of tropical west and central Africa. They have unfeathered heads, and feed on insects and molluscs picked from damp rocky areas. Both species are totally non-migratory, being dependent on a specialised rocky jungle habitat.
These are lanky birds with crow-like bills, long neck, tail and legs, and strong feet adapted to terrestrial feeding. They are similar in size and structure to the completely unrelated roadrunners, but they hop rather than walk. They also have brightly coloured bald heads.
Picathartes breed colonially. The nest is made of mud attached to a cave roof or overhanging rock on a cliff. Two eggs are laid.
The White-necked Rockfowl is found in rocky forest areas at higher altitudes from Sierra Leone to Togo. It has grey upperparts, white underparts and a yellow head with a black patch on each side.
The Grey-necked Rockfowl breeds in southern Cameroon, northern Nigeria and neighbouring areas of central Africa. It has grey upperparts and throat. The underparts are pale orange and the head is violet at the front and red at the back, again with black side patches.
Species of Picathartidae
- White-necked Rockfowl, Picathartes gymnocephalus
Grey-necked Rockfowl, Picathartes oreas