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A photo of a Bokmakierie (Telophorus zeylonus)


Telophorus zeylonus

The Bokmakierie, known scientifically as Telophorus zeylonus, presents itself as a vibrant bushshrike, a family of passerine birds once considered part of the true shrikes of the Laniidae family. This bird is adorned with olive-green upperparts and a striking bright yellow tip on its black tail. Its head is cloaked in grey with a yellow supercilium, while its robust bill features a hooked upper mandible. The underparts are a vivid yellow, set off by a broad black collar that extends from the throat to the breast and up the neck sides through the eye to the bill. The legs and feet are a subtle blue-grey. Both sexes share a similar appearance, though the juveniles can be distinguished by their dull grey-green underparts and absence of the black gorget.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Bokmakierie, look for the adult's bright yellow underparts and the distinctive black collar. The yellow supercilium and the yellow tip on the black tail are also key features. Juveniles lack the black gorget and are more subdued in coloration.


The Bokmakierie thrives in open habitats, including the karoo scrub, fynbos, and even parks and gardens within urban settings.


This species is endemic to southern Africa, with its presence mainly noted in South Africa and Namibia. There is also an isolated population in the mountains of eastern Zimbabwe and western Mozambique.


The Bokmakierie is known for its shyness and skulking nature, contrasting with the more conspicuous perching habits of the true shrikes. It is often preyed upon by snakes, mongooses, and larger shrikes like the northern fiscal and southern boubou.

Song & Calls

The Bokmakierie's vocal repertoire includes a variety of loud whistles and calls, frequently performed in antiphonal duets by pairs. Its most characteristic call, which has inspired its name, is a resonant "bok-bok-mak-kik."


The bulky cup nest of the Bokmakierie is typically constructed within a hedge, scrub, or tree fork. Both sexes share the duty of incubating the 2–6 eggs, usually three, which are greenish-blue with red-brown or lilac blotches. Incubation lasts about 16 days until hatching, followed by another 18 days until the young fledge.

Similar Species

While there are no similar species mentioned, the Bokmakierie can be distinguished from other bushshrikes by its unique coloration and call.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Bokmakierie consists of insects, small lizards, snakes, small birds, and frogs, aligning with the typical diet of shrikes.

Conservation status

The Bokmakierie is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. However, the isolated dark subspecies restrictus in the Chimanimani Mountains is of particular interest, with a population of only about 400 birds.

Bokmakierie Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Bokmakieries on Birda


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