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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Grey-headed Bush-shrike

Afrikaans name: Spookvoel

Eating an insect that it has just caught

Grey-headed Bush-shrike

Photo © Steven Herbert

Malaconotus blanchoti

I love the Afrikaans name of Spookvoel for this beautiful bird. It means "ghost bird" and refers to its mournful call which can often be heard and yet you can't see the bird responsible for it.

The Grey-headed Bush-shrike, like the other Bush-shrikes, is both colourful and elusive. It's hard to believe that these colourful birds can be so difficult to spot. They do, however, prefer thick bush and trees where they look for insects on the branches and leaves.

They are found over most of the eastern half of South Africa and much of sub-Saharan Africa.

Although these birds eat a lot of insects they are ferocious hunters for their size and have been known to kill snakes up to a metre in length. Other species of birds are also on their menu.

Between 2 and 4 eggs are laid in a nest made by the female who uses materials collected by the male. The nest is normally placed a few metres off the ground in a tree.


References and further reading

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 50

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 72

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 190

Geoff Lockwood's Garden Birds of Southern Africa - Author: Geoff Lockwood - Year Published: - Page: 72

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 660

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 658

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 398

Shrikes of Southern Africa - Author: Tony Harris and Graeme Arnott - Year Published: - Page: 112

List of South African Birds

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