Bushshrike, Helmetshrike, Cuckooshrike and Shrike

The taxonomic order of bushshrike includes 49 species. Some have flamboyant displays and tend to be colorful.  Bokmakieries (9") are lively, conspicuous and attractive bushshrikes. Endemic to southern Africa, they are shy and skulking. The Orange-breasted Bushshrike (7") has brilliant orange and yellow breast plumage that contrasts vividly against the acacia tree foliage in the African savanna. The Brubru (5 1/2"), a smallish, black and white bushshrike with chestnut flanks and a thick bill resembling true shrikes, are common in the acacia savanna. The Black-backed Puffback (6 1/2") is also small with black and white plumage.  Their name is derived from the male’s courtship display of fluffing out its spectacular white rump plumes which looks like a snowball.  The Southern Boubou (8 1/2") is a distinctive group of large bushshrikes.  They have glossy black upperparts with white wingbar and a buff wash on the belly. The attractive Black-crowned Tchagra (8 1/2”), the largest tchagra, is characterized by rufous wings, brownish upperparts and pale underparts with a black crown and eye stripes.

This is a highly sociable, group-living bushshrike recently placed in their own family.  Retz’s Helmetshrikes (8 1/2") are characterized by stiff, bristle-like feathers protruding from the forehead, fleshy red eye-wattles and bright yellow eyes and black plumage.  The sexes are alike.  The White-crested Helmetshrike (7 1/2") is a striking unmistakable black and white helmetshrike with grey hind crown, broad, white collar, yellow eye-wattles and orange-pink legs.

Cuckooshrikes are thrush-sized, unobtrusive birds that forage in woodland and the forest canopy.  The Grey Cuckooshrike (9-10") is the only all-grey species, and displays a narrow, white eye-ring. They eat insects and spiders and can be seen skulking around tree canopies looking for food.

Shrikes are medium-sized passerines with an upright stance and stout, hook-tipped bills. The Magpie Shrike (16" including tail) is a large black and white shrike, known as the African long-tailed shrike, having a very distinctive color and plumage pattern.  They are gregarious and usually occur in noisy groups of about a dozen birds covering a large area.