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the web of life in southern Africa

Laniarius bicolor (Swamp boubou) 

Moeraswaterfiskaal [Afrikaans]; Nankuwo (generic term for boubou) [Kwangali]; Moerasfiskaal [Dutch]; Gonolek à ventre blanc [French]; Zweifarbenwürger [German]; Picanço-dos-pântanos [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 bicolor (Swamp boubou)  Laniarius bicolor (Swamp boubou) 

Swamp boubou, Shamvura, Namibia. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Swamp boubous, Botswana. [photo Neil Gray ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Cameroon and the DRC to southern Africa, where it is locally common in northern Botswana, the Caprivi Strip and the upper-most reaches of Namibia. It almost only occurs along watercourses with surrounding dense vegetetation, such as tall reedbeds, Cyperus papyrus (Papyrus) and Ficus verruculosa (Water figs).

Distribution of Swamp boubou 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).


It eats a variety of insects, fruit and rarely frogs, doing most of its foraging in reedbeds or trees, gleaning prey from the vegetation. It also forages on the ground, flicking plant detritus around with its bill in a manner similar to thrushes (Muscicapidae).


  • The nest is a shallow cup of woven twigs and rootlets, usually placed in small thicket or bush about 2-3 metres above ground.
  • Egg-laying season is almost year round, usually peaking around November.
  • It lays about 2 eggs which are incubated by both sexes, singing a duet whenever they change shifts.


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.