The range of the Swamp boubou in southern Africa is restricted to the northern river systems of Namibia and Botswana, and within this area it is very likely to be heard before it is seen. Although it is fairly common, it is a shy, skulking bird and occupies well-vegetated areas along rivers, streams and flood plains.

The Swamp boubou is very vocal, the distinctive call is usually a duet initiated by the male calling a whistling “whhaww” to which the female immediately responds with a rattling “kiki-kaka-krrr”. The two birds call so closely together it sounds almost as though it is a single bird. The pair will often sit close together on a fairly exposed perch while calling.

The Swamp boubou is quite a big shrike, having a length of approximately 25 cm and the sexes are alike in both size and plumage coloration. The upper parts and the tail are glossy black, the under parts are white, and they have a distinctive white wing-stripe. Eyes are dark brown; bill is black; legs and feet are bluish-grey.

Swamp boubous feed mainly on insects, which they hunt on the ground or glean from trees and other vegetation, and also on fruit.

They are monogamous and make a nest in the shape of a shallow bowl, constructing it from twigs and roots. It is usually placed two or three metres above the ground in quite dense vegetation. The female lays a small clutch of as few as two greenish, speckled eggs and the incubation period is not known.

The scientific binomial for the Swamp boubou is Laniarius bicolor; Laniarius from the Latin for “butcher”; and bicolor from the Latin for “two coloured”. Thus the name describes a two coloured butcher, of which at least the two colours is totally accurate.

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3 Responses

  1. blank Jacki says:

    I live in Randburg and I have just seen two in my garden. I don’t live near a swamp. The male was very curious and flew down to a lower branch to take a look at me. Can they live so far from Botswana and and a swamp?

    • blank Jane says:

      Swamp Boubou’s are not found in your area Jacki. It could perhaps have been a Southern Boubou or maybe a misidentified Shrike.

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