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Species Guide
A photo of a Southern Boubou (Laniarius ferrugineus), male
Southern Boubou, Male

Southern Boubou

Laniarius ferrugineus

The Southern Boubou, known scientifically as Laniarius ferrugineus, is a bushshrike of medium size, measuring 20–22 cm in length. The male is adorned with black upperparts that extend from the crown to the tail, complemented by a prominent white wing stripe and a relatively long black tail with white outer feathers. The underparts are a crisp white, transitioning to a rufous hue on the lower belly, undertail, and flanks. The bill, eyes, and legs are a deep black. The female resembles the male but is cloaked in dark grey above with a rufous tinge to the breast. Juveniles mimic the female's plumage but are mottled buff-brown above, with a buff wash to the wing bar and barred below.

Identification Tips

To distinguish the Southern Boubou, look for the rufous underparts, which are the hallmark of this species and its namesake. It can be confused with the Southern Fiscal, Lanius collaris, but the Boubou has a shorter tail, more white in the wing, and is less conspicuous in behavior.


This species thrives in dense thickets within forests, mangroves, scrub, and gardens. In arid regions, it can be found along riverside woodlands.


The Southern Boubou is native to southeastern Africa, with its range encompassing southeastern Zimbabwe, eastern Botswana, Mozambique, and southern and eastern South Africa.


The Southern Boubou is known for its secretive nature, preferring to forage in dense vegetation close to the ground. It is often described as shy and skulking. Its diet consists mainly of insects, which it gleans from the ground or plucks from vegetation. It also consumes small rodents, lizards, snails, and fruits.

Song & Calls

The species is noted for its melodious duetted call, a symphony of ooo-whee-ooo, followed by a whistled ooo-ooo-wheee or wheee-wheee, then ooo-whee-ooo again. The call has many variations, and the liquid ooo-whee-ooo can sometimes be mistaken for that of a black-headed oriole. When alarmed, it emits a muted cluck.


The nest, primarily constructed by the female, is a shallow cup nestled in a creeper or dense bush. Typically, two greenish-white eggs adorned with brown blotches are laid. Both parents share the duties of incubation, which lasts 16–17 days until hatching, and they both contribute to feeding the chicks. Fledging occurs roughly 16 days later. A small percentage of nests, about 2%, fall victim to parasitism by the black cuckoo.

Similar Species

The Southern Boubou can be mistaken for the tropical and swamp boubous, but its rufous underparts set it apart. It also bears a superficial resemblance to the Southern Fiscal but differs in tail length, wing pattern, and behavior.

Diet and Feeding

The Southern Boubou's diet is predominantly insectivorous, but it also includes small vertebrates like rodents and lizards, as well as snails and fruits.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the Southern Boubou as Least Concern, indicating that the species does not currently face a significant risk of extinction.

Southern Boubou Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Southern Boubous on Birda


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