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Coracina caesia (Grey Cuckooshrike)

Bloukatakoeroe [Afrikaans]; Umsimpofu, Usinga [Xhosa]; iKlebedwane [Zulu]; Bosrupsvogel [Dutch]; Échenilleur gris [French]; Grauer raupenfänger, Waldraupenfänger [German]; Lagarteiro-cinzento [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Campephagidae

Coracina caesia (Grey Cuckooshrike)  

Grey cuckooshrike, Dhlinza Forest, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]


Distribution and habitat

Occurs in isolated populations across sub-Saharan Africa, with one of the largest in South Africa, from eastern Limpopo Province along the coast to the Western Cape. It also occupies Zimbabwe's eastern highlands bordering on Mozambique. It is generally uncommon and usually found in the upper canopy of evergreen and coastal forest, but it may also occur in old pine plantations and tall stands of trees in coastal towns.

Distribution of Grey cuckooshrike in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


It is insectivorous, mainly eating caterpillars and doing most of its foraging in the upper canopy of the forest, slowly creeping though the foliage. Occasionally it peers upwards, looking for insects or spiders on the underside of leaves. Once it spots something it flies upwards, grabs the prey and then returns to its perch to feed. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest is shallow bowl built of old-man's beard lichen (Usnea) cemented with spider web and placed either on a thick branch or in the fork of a tree, usually on the forest edge.
  • Egg-laying season peaks from November-December.
  • It lays 1-2 eggs, which are incubated both sexes. The chicks remain with their parents into the next breeding season.


Not threatened, in fact seemingly undisturbed by humans.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.