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Laniarius atrococcineus (Crimson-breasted shrike, Crimson-breasted boubou) 

Rooiborslaksman [Afrikaans]; Etwakura [Kwangali]; Kgaragoba, Kgorogoro [Tswana]; Burchell-fiskaal [Dutch]; Gonolek rouge et noir [French]; Rotbauchwürger, Reichsvogel, Kaiservogel [German]; Picanço-preto-e-vermelho [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: Malaconotidae

Laniarius atrococcineus (Crimson-breasted shrike, Crimson-breasted boubou)  Laniarius atrococcineus (Crimson-breasted shrike, Crimson-breasted boubou)

Crimson-breasted shrike, Mokala National Park, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ©].

Crimson-breasted shrike juvenile. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in a band from Angola and Zambia to northern areas of South Africa, with large populations in Namibia, Botswana and western Zimbabwe. It generally prefers arid habitats, especially Kalahari thornveld, Acacia savanna and semi-arid scrub, largely absent from desert.

Distribution of Crimson-breasted shrike 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 insects, gleaning prey from the leaves and trunks of trees, often flying to the ground to feed on ants or some fallen fruit. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Both sexes construct the nest, which is a tidy cup made almost entirely of Acacia tree bark, collected from trunks and branches about 50-90 metres from the nesting site and lined with grass and rootlets. It is usually bound with spider web to a fork in the main stem of a plant, or occasionally onto a horizontal branch. Most of the construction work is done in the early morning, and it is usually complete after about 4-6 days.
Laniarius atrococcineus (Crimson-breasted shrike, Crimson-breasted boubou)  

Crimson-breasted shrike in its nest, Nylsvley area , South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from August-january, peaking from October-November.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 15-17 days.
  • The chicks are fed and brooded by both parents, leaving the est at about 18-20 days old. Although they forage independently, they stil come back to roost with their parents, sometimes only leaving in next years breeding season.


Not threatened.


  • 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.