Family Bush-shrikes (Malaconotidae)

Least Concern

Marsh Tchagra (Bocagia minuta)


French: Tchagra des marais German: Sumpftschagra Spanish: Chagra marismeña
Other common names: Blackcap Bush-shrike

Telephonus minutus


, 1858,

Ashanti, Ghana


Nominate race sometimes separated from others as a distinct species, owing presumably to its black scapulars, but other plumage distinctions weak; recorded evidence of vocalizations currently very scarce, and claim that nominate meets race anchietae “without intergrading in SE DRC”#R is an over-interpretation of the original source#R. Races anchietae, reichenowi and remota intergrade where they meet; remota sometimes included in reichenowi. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. m. minuta (Hartlaub, 1858) – Marsh Tchagra – Sierra Leone E discontinuously to lower R Congo, N & E DRCongo (S to NW shores of L Tanganyika), South Sudan, E Sudan, Ethiopia, W Kenya and NW Tanzania.
  • B. m. anchietae (Bocage, 1869) – Anchieta's Tchagra – Angola, S & SE DRCongo, N Zambia, SW Tanzania and N & W Malawi.
  • B. m. reichenowi (Neumann, 1900) – E, C & S Tanzania (coastal lowlands S to R Rufiji, and inland in S Dodoma, Morogoro, Iringa and Songea).
  • B. m. remota (Clancey, 1959) – SE Malawi, N & W Mozambique and E Zimbabwe.
  • Descriptive notes

    15–19 cm; male 25–38 g, female 30–37 g, unsexed 32–41 g. A rather small, large-headed, thickset tchagra with comparatively short graduated tail; bill... read more


    Song of male, in display-flight preceded by muffled wing-fripping, is short, cheery whistled "... read more


    Rank waterside vegetation with moist grassy hollows, scattered bushes and elephant grass (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Quite large insects, including grasshoppers (Acrididae), beetles (Coleoptera), dragonflies (Odonata) and bugs (Hemiptera). Forages low down... read more


    Not well studied. Season Sept in Ghana, Jun–Jul in Nigeria and Oct in Sudan; various evidence indicates breeding in Feb–Jun and... read more


    Resident, perhaps also partially migratory; most records in N part of W African range are in rains... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally uncommon, and frequent or common only locally, within its very large but discontinuous range. This species' evident dependence on... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fry, H. (2020). Marsh Tchagra (Bocagia minuta). 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 1 April 2020).