Family Bush-shrikes (Malaconotidae)

Least Concern

Grey-headed Bush-shrike (Malaconotus blanchoti)


French: Gladiateur de Blanchot German: Graukopfwürger Spanish: Gladiador cabecigrís

Malaconotus blanchoti


, 1826,



Has been regarded as conspecific with M. monteiri. All races intergrade at common boundaries; size decreases clinally from N to S. Race citrinipectus included in interpositus by some authors#R. Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. b. blanchoti Stephens, 1826 – Senegal E to N Cameroon.
  • M. b. catharoxanthus Neumann, 1899 – N Cameroon E to Ethiopia (N & W of Rift Valley), Eritrea, Uganda and W Kenya.
  • M. b. approximans (Cabanis, 1869) – Ethiopia (S & E of Rift Valley), Somalia, Kenya and N Tanzania.
  • M. b. interpositus E. J. O. Hartert, 1911 – Angola, SE DRCongo (Katanga) and N & W Zambia (Mporokoso; North-Western Province).
  • M. b. citrinipectus Meise, 1968 – SW Angola and extreme N Namibia (Cunene Valley and N Ovamboland).
  • M. b. hypopyrrhus Hartlaub, 1844 – Rwanda, Tanzania and C & S Zambia S to NE Namibia (Caprivi Strip), N & E Botswana, Zimbabwe, S Mozambique and E South Africa (near Durban).
  • M. b. extremus Clancey, 1957 – coastal South Africa from S of Durban S to St Francis Bay.
  • Descriptive notes

    23–26 cm; male 73–84 g, female 65–99 g. A large bush-shrike with robust, strongly hooked bill, upper-mandible notch blunter than in large forest-dwelling... read more


    Male song or advertising call a series of spooky, drawn-out whistles on one pitch, "uuuuuuuuh... read more


    Thick woody growth and bushes in open savanna woodland, keeping to tangled growth, creepers, branch... read more

    Food and feeding

    Large arthropods and small vertebrates: locusts and grasshoppers (Acrididae), mantises (Mantidae), bees and wasps (Hymenoptera),... read more


    Breeds mainly in Jun–Jul in Gambia, Jan–May in Ghana, Feb–Sept in Nigeria; Mar–Jun in Sudan, Ethiopia (once in Dec... read more


    Probably mainly sedentary, but in Mali moves N with the rains; arrives Bamako in Mar and departs... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Uncommon to fairly common in savanna woodland throughout sub-Saharan Africa except for the Horn, Congo Basin and the SW. Density in N South Africa (... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fry, H. (2020). Grey-headed Bush-shrike (Malaconotus blanchoti). 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).