The Bird of the Week – Week 86 – Brubru

The Brubru is a fairly unobtrusive shrike that is quite difficult to see clearly as it hops about in the thickly leaved tree canopies that it favours. It is found through most of sub-Saharan Africa, and in the southern African region it is absent only from the south. It is found in open woodland areas, prefering areas with large, leafy trees. We have often seen it at campsites in Namibia, although usually just a snatched glimpse through a  screen of branches and leaves. It is usually found singly or in pairs and is a fairly small shrike, with a length of around 15 cm.

Brubru

The adult male has a black crown; white supercilium and a black eye-stripe; the back is black with a tawny stripe, the rump is black but with a white tip and white edges to the outer feathers. The under parts are white and it has rufous flanks. The female, which is similar in size, has duller black upperparts and less rufous colouring on the flanks.

Brubru

The Brubru is insectivorous and gleans insects from the leaves and twigs in the upper and mid canopy of large trees. It will occasionally hawk insects in mid-air. The call of the male, usually made from a perch high up in a tree, is a loud “preeeeee“, and pairs may call in duet, with the female responding to the male’s call with a softer “eeeu“.

Brubru

Brubrus are monogamous and build a cup nest of twigs and grass in the forked branches of a tree and hide it well, often camouflaging it with clumps of lichen. The female lays a clutch of two or three greenish eggs that are blotched with green or brown, and which hatch after an incubation period of approximately 19 days.

Brubru

The scientific binomial for the Brubru is Nilaus afer;  Nilaus has a rather odd derivation – it is an anagram of Lanius, the genus of true shrikes, and afer is from the Latin for “from Africa”. Thus a shrike from Africa, which is an apt description for dozens of species!

Brubru

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