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the web of life in southern Africa

Nilaus afer (Brubru) 

Bontroklaksman [Afrikaans]; Broebroe [Dutch]; Brubru africain [French]; Brubru [German]; Brubru [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

Nilaus afer (Brubru) Nilaus afer (Brubru) 

Brubru, South Africa. [photo Johann du Preez ]

Brubru, Roy's Camp, Namibia. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Distribution and habitat

Widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, absent only from the southern half of South Africa (including the Western, Eastern and Northern Capes) and the lowland forest in and around the DRC and West African coast. In southern Africa it generally prefers Acacia savanna, Miombo woodland and Mopane woodland, occasionally occurring in more arid habitats

Distribution of Brubru 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 arthropods, doing most of its foraging in the canopies of trees, gleaning prey from leaves and branches. It also hawks prey aerially and sometimes joins mixed species foraging flocks along with other passerines.


  • Both sexes build the nest, which is a small, neat cup made of fine plant material such as twigs, tendrils and bark held together with spider web.
Nilaus afer (Brubru)  

Brubru incubating its eggs, Nylsvley area, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ]

  • Egg-laying season is from about August-January.
  • It lays 1-3, usually 2 eggs which are incubated by both sexes for about 19 days.
  • The chicks are brooded constantly for the first week of their lives, after which brooding periods become more and more sporadic. The chicks eventually leave the nest at about 20-22 days old, becoming fully independent roughly 8 weeks later.


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.