Family Bush-shrikes (Malaconotidae)

Least Concern

Mountain Sooty Boubou (Laniarius poensis)


French: Gonolek de montagne German: Bergrabenwürger Spanish: Bubú montano occidental
Other common names: Mountain Boubou (when lumped with L. holomelas), Willard’s Boubou (willardi)

Dryoscopus poensis


, 1903,

Mount St Ysabel, Bioko


In past, often treated as conspecific with L. fuelleborni, but the two differ in plumage (particularly juvenile), bill size and voice. Until recently considered conspecific with L. holomelas; molecular evidence#R that helps to determine separate species status for holomelas also indicates close relationship of proposed species L. willardi to present species, and willardi included here on this basis and because it shares grey irides with (at least) race camerunensis#R (eye colour of camerunensis independently confirmed in NHMUK); willardi, however, has a song consisting of four fast equal-spaced identical notes, very different from other taxa in the complex, and fuller evidence may reinstate it as a species. No information on eye colour of older proposed taxon L. melas, described from Lugege (= Nyungwe) Forest, in Rwanda, but high elevation of that forest suggests that that name is probably a junior synonym of holomelas, and does not apply to willardi. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. p. poensis (Alexander, 1903) – Bioko Sooty Boubou – Bioko.
  • L. p. camerunensis Eisentraut, 1968 – Mount Cameroon Sooty Boubou – extreme SE Nigeria and W Cameroon.
  • L. p. willardi Voelker & Gnoske, 2010 – Willard's Sooty Boubou – lower E slopes of Albertine Rift in SW Uganda (Nteko) and NW Burundi (Kibira); probably also E DRCongo (W of L Albert Edward and NW of L Tanganyika), and possibly also Rwanda.
  • Descriptive notes

    18 cm; male 39–49 g, female 30–36 g, unsexed 40–54 g (camerunensis), male 38–45 g and female 38–47 g (nominate), male 41·3... read more


    Noisy, repertoire varied in each region, and main calls and songs differ substantially between... read more


    Edges of primary montane forest, dense low shrubby vegetation on steep slopes and in treefall areas... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including beetles (Coleoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera) and caterpillars; occasionally snails (Gastropoda), isopod crustaceans... read more


    Little known. Season Nov–Jan and Mar (and in breeding condition Oct and Apr) in Cameroon; in SW Uganda, specimens of race ... read more


    Resident, or perhaps a small-scale vertical migrant. Recorded down to 430 m at Ekona (Mt Cameroon... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Nominate race is confined to small part of Cameroon mountains EBA, while race camerunensis occurs more widely through... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fry, H. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Mountain Sooty Boubou (Laniarius poensis). 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 22 February 2020).