Tag Archives: lanius

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

Bird of the week – Week 10 : White-tailed shrike

The white tailed shrike is one of the most easily recognized shrikes in the Southern African region. Looking a bit like an overgrown batis in its black, white and grey plumage, it gives the impression that its head is too big for its short-tailed body and long legs. It is a fairly small passerine, just 15 cm in length.
It is a near endemic to Namibia, found from a little south of Windhoek northwards into south west Angola. Throughout this region it is a common resident in areas of scrubby savanna and thornbush. It is usually found in pairs or small groups of around 12 birds. They forage in trees, gleaning insects from branches and foliage, and also in bushes and on the ground. They are active and restless, continuously on the move.
It is a noisy species, with a variety of far-carrying whistles and ringing calls from the males that are often answered by the females. Sexes are alike in plumage and the female is a little larger than the male. They are monogamous and the nest is a cup usually placed in a shrub or small tree. The female lays 2 to 3 eggs in the clutch that hatch after an incubation period of about 15 days. They have a life expectancy of around 16 years.
The scientific name for the White-tailed shrike is Lanioturdus torquatuslanioturdus
from the Latin “lanius” , a butcher or executioner (hence a shrike) and “turdus”, a thrush; torquatus being the Latin for collared. Thus it is a collared bird that looks like a shrike and also looks like a thrush. Now that’s a good name!
(Jane says:  I think it looks like its wearing a little grey waistcoat and a black bow-tie!)