Family Cuckooshrikes (Campephagidae)

Least Concern

Grey Cuckooshrike (Ceblepyris caesius)


French: Échenilleur gris German: Waldraupenfänger Spanish: Oruguero gris

Ceblepyris caesia

M. H. C. Lichtenstein

, 1823,

Eastern Cape Province, South Africa


Proposed race preussi (E Nigeria and Bioko) has slightly darker throat than purus, but otherwise similar. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. purus (Sharpe, 1891) – SE Nigeria (Obudu Plateau), W Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea (Bioko and Mt Alen); also C Ethiopia, S South Sudan and NE DRCongo S to Malawi and adjacent NW Mozambique.
  • C. c. caesius M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823 – Zimbabwe and C Mozambique S to E & S South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    25–27 cm; 53–66 g (nominate), 40–63 g (purus). Male is almost entirely uniform medium grey, paler on forehead and forecrown and around eye, with... read more


    Thin, high-pitched, downslurred whistle, “seeea” or “peeee-oooo”, lasting c... read more


    Evergreen forest, forest patches, well-wooded watercourses with tall trees, and scattered trees... read more

    Food and feeding

    Takes insects, particularly caterpillars (Lepidoptera), crickets (Gryllidae) and grasshoppers (Orthoptera), as well as termite alates (... read more


    Breeds during rains, but avoids wettest months: Aug and Dec in Sudan, possibly Feb–Mar in Ethiopia; Jan–Mar, Aug, Oct and Dec... read more


    Largely resident, but some local seasonal movements. Some post-breeding migration to lower... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally frequent to common in N of range, but rare on Bioko I; mainly uncommon S from Malawi and Zimbabwe. Density in NE South Africa 6 birds/4... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. (2020). Grey Cuckooshrike (Ceblepyris caesius). 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).