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A photo of a Southern White-crowned Shrike (Eurocephalus anguitimens)
Southern White-crowned Shrike

Southern White-crowned Shrike

Eurocephalus anguitimens

The Southern White-crowned Shrike, a bird of modest size, measures approximately 24 centimeters from beak to tail. Both male and female exhibit a similar plumage pattern. The adult's most striking feature is its brilliant white crown and forehead, contrasted by a stark black mask that extends from above the eye to the neck's sides. The bird's upper parts are an ashy-brown, while the wings and tail display a darker brown hue. Its underparts are an off-white, with the upper breast showing a hint of buff and the lower belly and vent areas returning to an ashy-brown. The beak, eyes, and legs are all a deep, dark brown. Juvenile birds share a resemblance with adults but have a crown that is mottled and barred with grey rather than pure white, and their underparts bear a wash of ashy brown.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Southern White-crowned Shrike, look for the distinctive white crown and black mask, as well as the ashy-brown upper parts and off-white underparts. The bird's beak is notably black, which can be a helpful marker in the field.

Habitat

This species is known to inhabit subtropical or tropical dry forests and dry savannahs, where it can be observed living and foraging.

Distribution

The Southern White-crowned Shrike graces the skies and landscapes of several African countries, including Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Behaviour

This bird is highly sociable, often seen in small, tightly-knit groups that can range from three to six individuals, and sometimes even up to twenty outside the breeding season. They exhibit cooperative behavior, especially evident during breeding when they build nests together, share incubation duties, and collectively feed the nestlings. While not typically aggressive, they will valiantly defend against predators, particularly birds of prey. In their foraging efforts, they may associate with Tockus hornbills, capitalizing on the insects disturbed by these larger birds.

Song & Calls

The Southern White-crowned Shrike communicates with its own unique vocalizations, which are an integral part of its social behavior and can be heard throughout its habitat.

Breeding

These birds engage in cooperative breeding, a remarkable behavior where group members collaborate in constructing the nest, incubating the eggs, and feeding the young.

Similar Species

While there are other shrikes with similar features, the Southern White-crowned Shrike can be distinguished by its unique coloration and behavior patterns.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Southern White-crowned Shrike includes insects, which they often forage for in the company of Tockus hornbills, taking advantage of the larger birds' ability to flush out prey.

Conservation status

The Southern White-crowned Shrike is currently classified as "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), indicating a stable population without any immediate threats to its survival.

Southern White-crowned Shrike Sounds

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