The African Silverbill (Euodice cantans) is distributed mainly across the Sahel region, East Africa and in the south and south-west of the Arabian Peninsula. There are also some isolated populations on both sides of the Sahel.
In the Western Palearctic, the species breeds only in southern Algeria but its status is poorly known. For example, because there were very few known recent sightings, many birders – especially foreigners – don’t know if the species in some areas is still present or not.
In Egypt, the species is only present at Gebal Elba, which is biogeographically an Afro-tropical region. There are only a couple of records outside Gabel Elba, but those have not been accepted by the Egyptian Ornithological Rarities Committee.
African Silverbill at Tamanrasset in 2018
During a family trip to southern Algeria in December 2018, Kristina Klug observed and photographed several African Silverbills in the town of Tamanrasset. She also photographed the Red-billed Firefinches as well. (Unlike the silverbill, the latter species is more widespread in other areas as well. Read: Expansion of Red-billed Firefinch in Algeria).
This is good news for the WP birders; you don’t have to drive about 120 Km to Abalessa to see the African Silverbill, the species is still right there in Tamanrasset. Enjoy!
Update: in the ‘Dinosaur of the week’ on her blog, Kristina Klug kindly added more details about the silverbills she saw.
African Silverbill in Algeria: native or introduced?
As in the case of the Red-billed Firefinch, I think there is some confusion about whether the African Silverbill is a native or an introduced species in southern Algeria.
For example, the HBW Alive mentioned southern Algeria in the species’ range but added “origin of birds uncertain” citing the article of Belbachir (2000). However, that article does not say anything about this. The only mention of the word ‘introduced’ in the article is when the author mentioned the Red-billed Firefinch present also in the same region.
Isenmann and Moali (2000) also didn’t mention any reintroduction; they only cited the known observations in the country.
Comments are welcome about this “origin uncertain”. Thanks!
Thanks to Kristina for opening a new chapter for the birding in this region.
Belbachir, F. 2000. Première observation d’une colonie de Capucin bec-d’argent Euodice cantans, dans le Sahara Central algérien. Alauda 68: 149–151.
Isenmann, P. & Moali, A. 2000. Oiseaux d’Algérie / Birds of Algeria. SEOF, Paris.
Afrotropical species in Tamanrasset region
In July 2018, a big flock of Sudan Golden Sparrow (Passer luteus) and a Blue-naped Mousebird (Urocolius macrourus) were photographed at a village in the Tin-Zaouten district, extreme south of Tamanrasset Province (just outside of the WP limit).