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the web of life in southern Africa

Telophorus nigrifrons (Black-fronted bush-shrike) 

Swartoogboslaksman [Afrikaans]; Reichenow-bosklauwier [Dutch]; Gladiateur à front noir [French]; Schwarzstirn-buschwürger [German]; Picanço-de-testa-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

Telophorus nigrifrons (Black-fronted bush-shrike)   

Black-fronted bush-shrike, Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Tanzania. [photo Louis Andre Hansen ©]


Distribution and habitat

Patchily distributed from Kenya and southern DRC through Tanzania to southern Africa. Here it is fairly common but extremely difficult to see, as it has much more shy and retiring then other bush-shrikes. It has small populations in the eastern Zimbabwe forests bordering on Mozambique, as well as in the north-eastern escarpment forests of the Limpopo Province and Mpumalalanga (Graskop, Woodbush, Mariepskop) and the eastern Southpansberg (Hangklip and Entabeni forests).

Distribution of Black-fronted bush-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 is insectivorous, working its way up the canopy of a tree, gleaning insects from its leaves and branches until eventually it flies to the base of another tree and repeats the process. It also joins mixed species foraging flocks, especially in winter. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Both sexes construct the nest, which is a scruffy, shallow saucer built of fine twigs and dried creeper tendrils and lined with old mans beard (Usnea).
  • Egg-laying season is from October-January.
  • It lays 2 eggs, which are probably incubated by both sexes.
  • Nothing much is known about the chicks development, other than that they are fed by their parents after fledging.


Not threatened.s


  • 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.