Prionops plumatus (White-crested
helmet-shrike, White helmet-shrike)
Withelmlaksman [Afrikaans]; iPhemvu, uThimbakazane [Zulu];
Muduni [Kwangali]; Chiteveravadzimba [Shona]; Umthimbakazane [Swazi]; Urhiana
(generic term for helmet-shrike) [Tsonga]; Helmklauwier [Dutch]; Bagadais
casqué [French]; Brillenwürger [German]; Atacador-de-poupa-branca [Portuguese]
> Eukaryotes >
> Metazoa (animals) >
Deuterostomia > Chordata >
Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates) > Gnathostomata (jawed
vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class:
fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial
vertebrates) > Tetrapoda
(four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota >
Reptilia (reptiles) >
Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria >
(dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) >
Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves
> Family: Malaconotidae
Distribution and habitat
Widespread across sub-Saharan Africa, absent only from
parts of Somalia and the lowland forest of West-Central Africa. In southern
Africa it is common from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the Kruger National Park
through Botswana to northern Namibia. It is quite habitat-specific during the
breeding season, preferring deciduous broad-leaved woodland, such as Miombo,
Mopane and Burkea woodland. In the non-breeding season it moves more into other
habitats, including Acacia savanna and suburban gardens.
Distribution of White-crested helmet-shrike in southern Africa,
based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas
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 has been recorded as prey of the following animals:
It mainly eats invertebrates, especially moths and
caterpillars. During Summer it mainly forages in the tree canopy, whereas in
Winter it catches more of its prey on the ground. The following food items have
been recorded in its diet:
- It is a monogamous cooperative breeder, meaning that the breeding pair are
helped by their siblings and/or youngsters from the previous year's breeding
season, thus forming a group. If one of the breeding pair dies, he/she
is replaced with one of their siblings. Groups are territorial, noisily
defending themselves against other groups and predators.
White-crested helmet-shrike in its nest, Nylsvley
area, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]
- The nest is a small cup made of bark bound together with spider web and
lined with soft material. The breeding pair do most of the construction,
usually placing it in the horizontal fork of a tree branch 2-10 metres above
ground. The same nest sit is often used over multiple breeding seasons.
- The breeding female lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated in shifts by all
the group members over a period of about 16-21 days.
- The chicks are cared for by all group members - while 1-2 of them are
out foraging, one adult guards the nest from predators and another broods
the chicks. They leave the nest at about 17-22 days old, becoming fully
independent about a 5 months later.
Not threatened, in fact widespread and common.
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.