Southern Boubou

Laniarius ferrugineus

The shy Southern Boubou is heard far more often than it is seen and engages in a melodious duet that is often quite unique to the pair in note-combinations and pitch. They inhabit forests, thickets, dense coastal shrublands and riverine vegetation where they forage in the tangled undergrowth for insects, worms, snails, lizards, eggs, fruits, nectar and seeds. They have also adapted to well-planted gardens in some towns and cities. Adults grow to 22cm in length and weigh around 60g.

Southern Boubous are usually seen singly or in monogamous pairs that claim a small, lifelong territory for themselves. The females are responsible for building the shallow cup-shaped nest (using grass, twigs and roots) in a densely-leaved plant, but both parents take turns to incubate the clutch of 2 or 3 eggs for a little over two weeks and feeding the newly hatched chicks, which fledge at about 2 weeks old and stay with their parents for up to 3 months longer. Their breeding season spans spring and summer.

Apart from South Africa (where it is found from the Western Cape coast and adjacent interior, through the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal to Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Gauteng and North West Province) the Southern Boubou occurs only in southern Mozambique, Swaziland and a small portion of Botswana and Zimbabwe along the course of the Limpopo River. It is considered to be of least concern by the IUCN.


17 thoughts on “Southern Boubou

  1. kim blades, writer

    Hi guys. These are fantastic photos of this shy bird. I have seen them a couple of times in Hluhluwe, but only in trees and well camouflaged by leaves. What was the outcome of the battle between the Boubou and the boomslang?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks for the kind words, Kim!
      In the end the Boomslang made it safely to another patch of forest which didn’t “belong” to the Boubou, so both of them came through the encounter relatively unscathed.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Both the Boomslang and the Boubou were none the worse for wear after the altercation, Janet. The Boubou was nimble and quick enough to both evade the snake’s strikes and give it a few pecks to convince it to move along quickly

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Anne

    I love these birds – quite characterful when seen regularly in one’s garden. We have a pair that appear for most of the year then take a sabbatical for a while. The ones at the picnic site at the Addo Elephant National Park have become very tame over the years too.



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