If one had to draw up a list of iconic birds to see on the African continent, the Green-breasted Pitta Pitta reichenowi would almost certainly be very high up on that list.
Like most of the other Pittas, it is a brilliantly coloured terrestrial bird with a rainbow of colours to show off. That is, if you can find it! It is a very shy and skulking species and rarely seen or photographed.
It is one of only two Pitta species in Africa, and is found in deep, dense, moist forests of the tropics from western Cameroon to southern Uganda and to central DRC. Pittas in Africa are almost impossible to find when not in display, but Kibale in Uganda has been a fairly reliable spot for some time now.
Interestingly, some authors have considered the Green-breasted Pitta conspecific with African Pitta Pitta angolensis on the basis of apparent intermediate birds from Cameroon and southern Congo and more recently southeastern Nigeria, resulting in a postulated hybrid zone extending from southeastern Nigeria to southern Congo.
The Green-breasted Pitta’s diet consists of mostly insects, including hairless caterpillars, beetles and beetle larvae, termites, small millipedes and small centipedes.
It probably breeds in most months of the year, laying 2 to 3 eggs in a fairly large, domed nest about 2 metres above the ground on a horizontal trunk or branch of a tree. The nest is built from a few large twigs and tough dead creeper stems interwoven with large mass of dead and skeletonized leaves.