White-winged Apalis Apalis chariessa


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a small and fragmented population, which is considered to be in decline due to habitat loss. The largest subpopulation of the species may contain a couple of thousand individuals, and as such it is listed as Near Threatened.

Population justification
Forests in the Udzungwas contain the largest population of the species, with a best guess of 'a couple of thousand individuals'. In Malawi, the population is thought to be around 100 individuals or more (L. Dinesen in litt. 2007), in Mozambique the species only occupies a small area of forest, and in Kenya it may be extinct. In light of this information, the species's population size is placed in the band 2,500-9,999 individuals. This equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is considered to be in decline owing to the clearance and degradation of forests across the species's range, although the likely rate of decline has not been estimated.

Distribution and population

Apalis chariessa has a disjunct range in Kenya (possibly extinct), Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique. In Kenya, the nominate subspecies is known only from the lower Tana river, but has not been seen since 1961 (Butynski 1994, L. Bennun in litt 1999, Oyugi and Amutete 1999). In Tanzania, subspecies macphersoni is found in the Uluguru and Udzungwa Mountains, where a density of 17 pairs/km2 was recorded at one site, otherwise being uncommon to relatively common at other sites (Svendsen and Hansen 1995, Butynski 2003). The Udzungwas hold the largest population of the species, occurring at nine localities, with a best guess of 'a couple of thousand' individuals (Dinesen et al. 2001). This race also occurs in a small area of forest on Mt Chiperone in Mozambique (Benson 1950), as well as at nine main sites in south-eastern Malawi (500-1,550 m), where the total population has certainly declined since the 1980s estimates (see Dowsett-Lemaire 1989, Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2006), and the total population in Malawi now may be only 100 individuals or more (L. Dinesen in litt. 2007). At Mt Namuli, the species is restricted to strips of riparian forest on the lower slopes (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2008). It is very rare on Mt Mulanje, with two records on the southern slopes at 1,000 m and 1,300 m in 1983 (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2008).


This is a leaf- and twig-gleaning insectivore of the forest canopy and edge. It is most frequent in tall, wet, luxuriant forest, generally below 1,600 m (Svendsen and Hansen 1995), but up to 2,000 m (Dinesen et al. 1993). It inhabits forest dominated by Albizia and Newtonia spp., being most abundant on the edges of forest or in riparian strips, and avoiding substantial blocks of primary forest (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2006). It is often seen feeding in Albizia trees, and has been observed to forage almost exclusively in the canopy up to 35 m above the ground, but on a few occasions, has been seen down to 3-4 m in light gaps (Dinesen et al. 1993).


The lower Tana river forests are threatened by encroachment for agriculture and unsustainable tree-felling for poles and canoes (L. Bennun in litt 1999). Its population in south-eastern Malawi is under severe threat, with forest clearance continuing at all sites, and there will soon be very little habitat remaining (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 1997) outside some small patches on private tea-estates (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2006). Since the early 2000s, forest on Thyolo Mountain (a former stronghold) has been totally destroyed, as have all patches in the Shire Highlands (including Soche) (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2016). Forest on Mt Chiperone is untouched at present, but clearance for small-scale agriculture and logging is likely to occur in the near future (V. Parker in litt. 1998). In the Udzungwas, several forest fragments are under increasing pressure, although the species's survival is not immediately threatened in this area (L. Dinesen in litt. 2007). No protection measures are planned for the habitat occupied by the species on Mt Namuli, and it is expected to disappear from the area (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2008).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
In Tanzania, conservation action in the Uluguru Mountains is aiming to assist local initiatives and increase the involvement of local communities in forest management (Buckley and Matilya 1998). The Udzungwa Mountains National Park is supported by a community forestry programme. Several other parts of its range in the Udzungwas are protected in forest reserves, and participatory forest management activities are supported at several sites, although pressure on some forest patches continues to increase (L. Dinesen in litt. 2007). In Kenya, some lower Tana river forests, where this species may still occur, are part of a major conservation programme.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey the lower Tana river forests to clarify whether it still occurs there. Assess its status on Mt Chiperone (V. Parker in litt. 1998). Conduct further surveys on Mt Namuli to determine the exact location of the main population there (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2008). Establish a programme to monitor its population and habitat on a regular basis in Tanzanian and Malawian forests.


15 cm. Small warbler of forest. Black upperparts. Bright, golden-yellow underparts. Conspicuous white wing panels. White throat with black breast-band. Exceptionally long tail. Female paler, lacks breast-band. Voice Rapid, repeated tee-luu dee-lu.


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Westrip, J., Shutes, S.

Dowsett, R.J., Parker, V., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Dyer, M., Dinesen, L., Bennun, L.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Apalis chariessa. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/01/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/01/2022.