Family Bush-shrikes (Malaconotidae)

Least Concern

Brubru (Nilaus afer)


French: Brubru africain German: Brubruwürger Spanish: Brubrú

Lanius afer


, 1801,



Most distinctive subspecies occur in miombo (Brachystegia) woodland of SC Africa, with taxa that more resemble each other to the N and S in acacia-steppe habitats. Race massaicus intergrades with nominate in NE Uganda (Karamoja); nigritemporalis intergrades with affinis and brubru in SE DRCongo (Katanga), and with solivagus in Zambia (middle Zambezi Valley). Proposed race hilgerti (R Kassam, in E Ethiopia) included in minor. Nine subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • N. a. afer (Latham, 1801) – S Mauritania and Senegal E to Eritrea and NW Ethiopia, S to NW & C Cameroon, W & NW Central African Republic and NW Uganda; dry-season visitor to coastal Liberia and Ghana.
  • N. a. camerunensis Neumann, 1907 – Cameroon highlands, S Central African Republic, and N & NE DRCongo (E to N end of L Albert).
  • N. a. minor Sharpe, 1895 – SE South Sudan, SE Ethiopia, Somalia (except NE), plateau country in N & E Kenya (S to Kerio Valley, Baringo, Isiolo, Tsavo and Taru), and NE Tanzania.
  • N. a. massaicus Neumann, 1907 – NE DRCongo, Uganda, Kenya (except N & E) and N Tanzania (Serengeti S to Shinyanga).
  • N. a. affinis Bocage, 1878 – N Angola and S DRCongo (Kasai, and Katanga E to Mt Kabobo).
  • N. a. nigritemporalis Reichenow, 1892 – E Angola, S & SE DRCongo and Tanzania (except far NW & NE) S to Zambia (except extreme SW), Zimbabwe (in middle Zambezi Valley), Malawi and Mozambique (except extreme S).
  • N. a. brubru (Latham, 1801) – SW & W Angola, extreme SW Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, W Zimbabwe, N South Africa (W Limpopo S to extreme N Northern Cape and W Free State) and W Swaziland.
  • N. a. solivagus Clancey, 1958 – C plateau of Zimbabwe, SW Mozambique (W Sul do Save), N South Africa (N & E Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal) and E Swaziland.
  • N. a. miombensis Clancey, 1971 – extreme SE Zimbabwe (around Marhumbini), SE Mozambique lowlands and NE South Africa (coastal KwaZulu-Natal).
  • Descriptive notes

    12·5–15 cm; male 17–32 g and female 18–30 g (solivagus) ; male 21–27 g and female 21–25 g (nigritemporalis), sexes... read more


    Male song, commonly heard, a repeated far-carrying, high-pitched trill lasting 0·5–0... read more


    Varies regionally, from canopy of mature Brachystegia, Colophospermum, ... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates, including moths and caterpillars (Lepidoptera), ants (Formicidae), beetles (Coleoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), flies (... read more


    Season about Jun–Nov in Gambia and Mali, about Jan–Feb in Ghana and Nigeria, May in Niger, Feb in Chad, Apr–May and Nov... read more


    Mostly resident. Partial migrant in W Africa, dry-season visitor late Oct to mid-Mar in coastal... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in many parts of its vast sub-Saharan range. Uncommon in Togo. Global population perhaps in low millions; probably more than 100,000... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fry, H. (2020). Brubru (Nilaus afer). 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 24 February 2020).