Family Bush-shrikes (Malaconotidae)

Least Concern

Crimson-breasted Gonolek (Laniarius atrococcineus)


French: Gonolek rouge et noir German: Rotbauchwürger Spanish: Bubú pechirrojo
Other common names: Crimson-breasted Shrike, Crimson-breasted Bush-shrike

Lanius atrococcineus


, 1822,

Spuigslang Fontein (confluence of Vaal and Orange Rivers), South Africa


Several genetic studies indicate that present species represents a single, deep branch in phylogenetic tree of present genus, only very distantly related to the other scarlet gonoleks; one study#R indicates that this colourful species may be sister to the all-black W & C African L. leucorhynchus. Until recently regarded as being close to L. erythrogaster, and was sometimes considered conspecific (calls apparently identical, and responds to voice playback of latter). Monotypic.


Kalahari Basin and adjoining hardveld regions: S Angola, SW Zambia and W & S Zimbabwe S to Namibia (except W & S: Namib and Karoo), Botswana (except parts of N & C) and N & C South Africa (N & C Limpopo Province S to N Northern Cape and NW Free State).

Descriptive notes

22–23 cm; 40–56·5 g. Has lores matt black, forehead to hindneck and side of head, and upperparts, jet-black and strongly glossy (gloss bluish in some... read more


Wide repertoire of loud, explosive, hollow, ringing whistles by male and harsh grating, snarling or... read more


Thornveld with scattered clumps of small trees, particularly woodland dominated by acacia (... read more

Food and feeding

Beetles (of families Carabidae, Tenebrionidae and Cerambycidae), beetle larvae, ants (Formicidae), caterpillars, termites (Isoptera),... read more


Season Sept–Apr, mainly Oct–Nov; often double-brooded, and some pairs make four nesting attempts in a season. Territory... read more


Resident; some local wandering in austral winter.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Frequent nearly everywhere in range, commonest in well-developed acacia woodland and bushveld and in NW part of C Kalahari; absent from apparently... read more

Recommended citation

Fry, H. (2020). Crimson-breasted Gonolek (Laniarius atrococcineus). 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 18 February 2020).