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Tchagra senegalus (Black-crowned tchagra) 

Swartkroontjagra [Afrikaans]; Umnguphane (generic term for tchagra) [Xhosa]; umNguphane [Zulu]; Eyimba (generic term for tchagra) [Kwangali]; Chisamaura, Nyamaburo [Shona]; Umnguphane (generic term for tchagra) [Swazi]; Mghubhana lowu kulu [Tsonga]; Zwartkruintsjagra [Dutch]; Tchagra à tête noire [French]; Senegaltschagra [German]; Picanço-assobiador-de-coroa-preta [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

Tchagra senegalus (Black-crowned tchagra)  

Black-crowned tchagra, Tanzania. [photo Martin Goodey ©]


Distribution and habitat

Occurs across sub-Saharan Africa, absent only from the deserts in and around Somalia, large areas of Namibia, and much of South Africa (excluding KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga and parts of the Eastern Cape). It is locally common throughout its range occupying dry, thorny savanna woodland, miombo (Brachystegia)woodland and suburban gardens.

Distribution of Black-crowned tchagra 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 invertebrates, often foraging on the ground, plucking prey from the leaf litter or grass. It also takes insects from leaves and branches, and occasionally from dung.  The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • It is a monogamous solitary nester, with males contesting their territories by holding singing duels; the winner is decided by how well it can extend its neck and how loud it can call.
  • The nest is a shallow cup built of rootlets, fine twigs and tendrils bound together with spider web and typically placed in a horizontal or vertical fork in a tree or bush. Both sexes help with the construction, which usually takes about 7 days.
Tchagra senegalus (Black-crowned tchagra)  

Black-crowned tchagras at their nest, Sericea farm, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • It lays 1-4, usually 2-3 eggs, which are incubated mainly by the female, for about 12-17 days.
  • The chicks stay in the nest for about 13-16 days, remaining with their parents for most of the non-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.