African Tailorbird Artisornis metopias Scientific name definitions

Flemming P. Jensen and Peter F. D. Boesman
Version: 2.0 — Published December 23, 2022



Occurs in montane forest (1,000–2,570 m elevation) in eastern Tanzania and northwestern Mozambique from Tanzania’s Usambara Mountains southwards to the head of Lake Malawi and in the highlands east of Lake Malawi south to Serra Jeci in Mozambique. It is known from the following mountain areas:

  • East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania. Collected at Amani at 900 m in the early 1930s when it was uncommon (1); reported there in tiny numbers in the 1980–1990s (24). Occurs in the Mount Nilo area (Lutindi and Kilanga) from 1,000–1,500 m (25, 26, 24).
  • West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania. Recorded from Lushoto and Shume (Magamba) at 1,220–2,135 m (13, 12).
  • Nguru Mountains. Tanzania. Recorded from 1,550–1,750 m (27).
  • Ukaguru Mountains, Tanzania. Occurs at 1,500–1,850 m (28).
  • Uluguru Mountains, Tanzania. Recorded from 1,200–2,570 m (13, 29, 30).
  • Rubeho Mountains, Tanzania. Recorded at Image, Mangalisa, Uvidunda, Msanga, Ukwiva, Mafwemiro, Wota and Kiboriani (31).
  • Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania. Widespread, recorded from Ndundulu-Luhombero, Uzungwa Scarp, Mwanihana, Nyumbanitu, Ukami, Iyondo, Kisinga-Rugaro, Ikokoto and Ulongambi (= Dabaga) forests at 1,340–2,030 m ( 13, 32, 33, 34) and further to the southwest on the Udzungwa Plateau in the Kigogo Forest at 1,700–1,830 m (32) and forest patches around Mufindi (Ifupira, Ipafu, and Lulanda forests) at 1,630–1,970 m (35).
  • Southern Highland, Tanzania. Recorded from Mdando Forests in 1962 (no altitude given) (13) and in 2022 at 1,950 m (FPJ, unpublished data).
  • Matengo Highland, Tanzania. Recorded from Kitesa Forest (= Luwiri-Kitessi Forest) at 1,560–2,000 m in the 1930s (36, 37) and in 2022 by E. Mulungu and M. Mbilinyi (unpublished data).
  • Mount Chitagal, Mozambique. Recorded in small forest patch at ca. 1,700 m at the top of the mountain (38)
  • Serra Jeci (Njesi Plateau), Mozambique. In forest patches at ca. 1,500–1,850 m (39, 38).

A single record at Shengena in the South Pare Mountains of northeastern Tanzania in 1992 (40) requires corroboration given that a subsequent, comprehensive study of the avifauna in the same area in 1996–1997 did not report African Tailorbird (33).

Historical Changes to the Distribution

The mean upper elevational limit shifted 460 m upslope over a 39-year period (1980–2019) in the West Usambara Mountains, while the lower and upper elevational limits shifted 161 and 307 m upslope, respectively, during the same period (41). This upslope shift is believed to be a response to climate warming (41); climate change may be affecting the elevational limit of the African Tailorbird in other montane forest areas.

Distribution of the African Tailorbird - Range Map
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the African Tailorbird

Recommended Citation

Jensen, F. P. and P. F. D. Boesman (2022). African Tailorbird (Artisornis metopias), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.afrtai2.02