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Species Guide
A photo of a Crimson-breasted Shrike (Laniarius atrococcineus)
Crimson-breasted Shrike

Crimson-breasted Shrike

Laniarius atrococcineus

The Crimson-breasted Shrike, also known as the Crimson-breasted Gonolek or Boubou, is a striking bird with a vivid contrast of colors. Its upper parts, including the wings and tail, are cloaked in black, with the wings featuring a prominent white bar. The underparts are a brilliant scarlet, creating a dazzling display. Occasionally, one may encounter a yellow-breasted variant, which was once thought to be a distinct species.

Identification Tips

To identify this bird, look for the unmistakable combination of black and bright scarlet plumage. Both sexes are similar in appearance, making differentiation between male and female challenging. Juveniles, however, present a more subdued palette of mottled and barred buff-brown with a paler bill.


The Crimson-breasted Shrike favors the drier thornbush areas, thriving in thickets and riparian scrub. It is a bird that appreciates the cover and complexity these habitats provide.


This non-migratory species has a home range extending from southern Angola through to South Africa's Free State province and Northern Cape. It is a bird of the southern African region, well-adapted to its environment.


The Crimson-breasted Shrike is known for its agility and restless nature. Often, its piercing whistles betray its presence before it is seen. Despite its vivid coloring, it is not a shy bird and can be quite conspicuous in its movements and vocalizations.

Similar Species

The Crimson-breasted Shrike may be confused with other bushshrikes, particularly the yellow-crowned gonolek and the black-headed gonolek of East Africa. However, DNA research indicates that it does not form a superspecies with these relatives.

Conservation Status

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the Crimson-breasted Shrike as a "Least Concern" species, indicating a stable population without immediate threats to its survival.

Crimson-breasted Shrike Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Crimson-breasted Shrikes on Birda


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A photo of a Black-backed Puffback (Dryoscopus cubla) , male

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