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

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1981 - Page: 514

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

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

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 1993 - Page: 362

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

Shrikes of Southern Africa - Author: Tony Harris and Graeme Arnott - Published: 0 - Page: 112

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Published: 1989 - Page: 83

The Birds of South Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Published: 1949 - Page: 307

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 172

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 2nd edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1957 - Page: 388

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1975 - Page: 502

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 2000 - Page: 380

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 1984 - Page: 380

More Garden Birds of Southern Africa - Author: P. Ginn & G. McIlleron - Published: 1981 - Page: 47

go! - Issue 140 - Author: - Published: 2018 - Page: 25

Ian Sinclairs Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair - Published: 1988 - Page: 282

Geoff Lockwoods Garden Birds of Southern Africa - Author: Geoff Lockwood - Published: 0 - Page: 72

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

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

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Published: 1987 - Page: 236

Bird Atlas of Natal - Author: Digby Cyrus and Nigel Robson - Published: 1980 - Page: 252

Birds of Southern Africa - Kruger National Park - Author: Kenneth Newman - Published: 1985 - Page: 194

Birds of the Transkei - Author: C.D. Quickelberge - Published: 1989 - Page: 109

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

A First Guide to South African Birds - 6th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1959 - Page: 50

A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: O.P.M. Prozesky - Published: 1983 - Page: 270

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List of South African Birds

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