Family Bush-shrikes (Malaconotidae)

Least Concern

Black-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra senegalus)


French: Tchagra à tête noire German: Senegaltschagra Spanish: Chagra del Senegal

Lanius Senegalus


, 1766,



Races can be divided into three groups. Large, very long-tailed, dark cucullatus represents a single-taxon subspecies group, geographically remote from others. The three taxa in the “habessinicus group” are relatively small, with darker upperparts, reduced or absent rufous edges of tertials and less buff-tinged supercilium, and maps#R#R show apparent parapatric distribution of habessinicus with larger, paler “senegalus group” (mainly remigialis) in Sudan; more research needed, especially as warsangliensis (unjustifiably synonymized with habessinicus by some authors#R) and percivali themselves form a relatively distinct subgroup, being smaller and notably shorter-tailed than habessinicus. Race remigialis intergrades with nothus around L Chad. At least 17 races have been described; pallidus synonymized with nominate, timbuktanus with nothus, also camerunensis, sudanensis and rufofuscus with armenus, and mozambicus and confusus with orientalis. Ten subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. s. cucullatus (Temminck, 1840) – Hooded Tchagra – Morocco E to N Tunisia and NW Libya.
  • T. s. senegalus (Linnaeus, 1766) – Black-crowned Tchagra – S Mauritania S to Liberia, E to S Mali (S from Mopti), Nigeria (except far N), S Chad and Central African Republic.
  • T. s. nothus (Reichenow, 1920) – borders of Sahara from C Mali E to L Chad.
  • T. s. remigialis (Hartlaub & Finsch, 1870) – L Chad E to W & C Sudan (Darfur, Kordofan and C Nile Valley).
  • T. s. armenus (Oberholser, 1906) – S Cameroon E to N DRCongo, South Sudan (Bahr el Ghazal) and Uganda, S in W to Angola (S to W & C Huíla and Cuando Cubango) and, in E, to Kenya (except coast), Tanzania (except E lowlands), Malawi, NW Mozambique and N Zimbabwe.
  • T. s. kalahari (Roberts, 1932) – S Angola (E Huíla E to SE Cuando Cubango), N Namibia, SW Zambia, Botswana, NW Zimbabwe, and N South Africa (North West Province and W Limpopo).
  • T. s. orientalis (Cabanis, 1869) – S Somalia, coastal Kenya, E Tanzanian lowlands, Mozambique (except Tete region), Zimbabwe (except N & NW), NE & E South Africa and Swaziland.
  • T. s. habessinicus (Ehrenberg, 1833) – Abyssinian Tchagra – E Sudan, E South Sudan (E from Imatong Mts), Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and NW Somalia.
  • T. s. percivali (Ogilvie-Grant, 1900) – SW Saudi Arabia, W & E Yemen and S Oman.
  • T. s. warsangliensis S. R. Clarke, 1919 – Warsangli area of N Somalia.
  • Descriptive notes

    19·5–23 cm; 42–53 g (armenus), 48–55 g (orientalis). Nominate race has crown, lores and stripe behind eye black, long broad... read more


    Song of male a series of rich, lilting, mellow, warbling whistles, sweeter, slower and more... read more


    Wide variety of open grassy situations with bushes, thickets and small trees. In Morocco scrubby... read more

    Food and feeding

    Eats mainly insects, including grasshoppers (Acrididae) up to 6 cm long, crickets (Gryllidae), beetles and their larvae (Coleoptera),... read more


    Season May–Jun in Morocco and Apr–May in Tunisia; Aug in Mauritania, Jul in Sene­gal and Oct–Nov in Gambia; in Ghana... read more


    Resident; some evidence of local movements in NW Africa, in extreme N parts of range in W Africa,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common. Uncommon to locally common in Morocco and Algeria, commoner in Tunisia; in Morocco, density in Thyula scrub 8 pairs/km2,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fry, H. (2020). Black-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra senegalus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 February 2020).