Vaalnest reviews the Boubou, Southern bird

Posted by Collen on Tue October 13, 2015 in Birding in Vaal Marina.

The southern boubou bird is a bushshrike species. Though these passerine birds and their relations were once included with true shrikes in the Laniidae, they are not closely related to that family.

This species is found in South-eastern Africa, mainly in South-eastern Zimbabwe, eastern Botswana, Mozambique and southern and eastern South Africa. It frequents dense thickets in forests, mangroves, scrub and gardens. In drier regions, it is found in riverside woodlands. The rufous on the underparts, which gives this species its scientific name, distinguishes it from the tropical and swamp boubous. It superficially resembles the southern fiscal, Lanius collaris, but is shorter tailed, has more white in the wing, and is much less conspicuous in its habits.

Unlike the true shrikes, which perch conspicuously in the open, the southern boubou prefers to forage in dense vegetation close to the ground, a habit which has led to its being called shy and skulking. The food is mainly insects, taken from the ground or picked off vegetation as the bird creeps low in bushes. It will also take small rodents, lizards snails and fruits. Here are a few features to lookout for when spotting the Boubou:

  • The female is similar to the male, but dark grey above and with a rufous wash to the breast.
  • Young birds are like the female, but mottled buff-brown above
  • Look for a buff wash to the wing bar, and are barred below.
  • The male Southern Boubou is a fairly distinctive 20–22 cm long bird with black upperparts extending from the top of the head down to the tail,
  • A striking white wing stripe, and a relatively long black tail with white outer feathers.
  • The underparts are white shading to rufous on the lower belly, undertail and flanks.
  • The bill, eyes and legs are black.

The nest, built mainly by the female, is a shallow cup in a creeper or dense bush into which the usually two brown-blotched greenish-white eggs are laid. Both sexes incubate for 16–17 days to hatching, and both bring food to the chicks. Fledging takes place in about another 16 days and about 2% of nests are parasitised by the black cuckoo.







BirdLife International (2012). "Laniarius ferrugineus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.

Tony Harris and Kim Franklin, Shrikes & Bush Shrikes (Christopher Helm, 2000) ISBN 0-691-07036-9

Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey and Warwick Tarboton, SASOL Birds of Southern Africa (Struik 2002) ISBN 1-86872-721-1

Tobias Merkle, Vocalisations of the Southern Boubou in the Eastern Cape, South Africa (Ostrich 81: 77-79)