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Coracina pectoralis (White-breasted cuckooshrike) 

Witborskatakoeroe [Afrikaans]; Witborst-rupsvogel [Dutch]; Échenilleur à ventre blanc [French]; Weißbrust-raupenfänger [German]; Lagarteiro-cinzento-e-branco [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 pectoralis (White-breasted cuckooshrike)   

White-breasted cuckooshrike, Shamvura, Namibia. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]


Distribution and habitat

Patchily distributed across sub-Saharan Africa, occurring along the band of Sahel savanna and Mesic woodland, from West to East Africa. It also has a separate population south of the equator from Tanzania, Zambia and Angola to southern Africa. Here it is uncommon, with the bulk of the population in Zimbabwe, extending into the Caprivi Strip, northern Botswana, northern Mozambique and the Limpopo Province, with isolated populations in the south of Botswana and Mozambique. It generally favours well developed Mopane (Colosphermum mopane) and Miombo (Brachystegia) woodland, occasionally occupying riverine forest.

Distribution of White-breasted 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 mainly eats caterpillars, gleaning them from the trunk, branches and leaves of trees, occasionally joining mixed-species foraging flocks. It also takes advantage of termite alate emergences, hawking them on the wing.


  • The nest is built solely by the female and consists of a shallow bowl made of twigs and leaf petioles, covered in old-man's beard lichen (Usnea) and cemented with spider web. It is usually placed on a thick branch or in horizontal fork, often 6-20 metres above ground. Once the chicks have left the nest it is destroyed.
  • It lays 1-2 eggs, which in one observation were incubated by both sexes for 23 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 24 days, becoming independent 2-3 months later but still remaining with the adults until the next breeding season.


Rare in southern Africa but technically not threatened, although fragmentation of miombo (Brachystegia) woodlands in Zimbabwe may be cause for concern.


  • 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.