Family Bush-shrikes (Malaconotidae)

Least Concern

Southern Boubou (Laniarius ferrugineus)


French: Gonolek boubou German: Flötenwürger Spanish: Bubú ferrugíneo

Lanius ferrugineus

J. F. Gmelin

, 1788,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


Has been treated as conspecific with L. aethiopicus, L. nigerrimus, L. sublacteus, L. bicolor and L. turatii; genetically closest to L. sublacteus#R. Where present species and L. aethiopicus meet, in R Limpopo Valley (in N South Africa and Mozambique), their races are very similar and may hybridize and intergrade; but along R Runde, in Zimbabwe, race savensis of present species overlaps with the larger race limpopoensis of L. aethiopicus without interbreeding. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. f. savensis A. A. R. Pinto, 1963 – SE Zimbabwe (lower R Runde) and S Mozambique (R Save Valley).
  • L. f. transvaalensis Roberts, 1922 – SE Botswana (Gaborone and Lobatse areas) and lowlands of N South Africa (N North West Province and Limpopo Province, excluding Limpopo Valley, S to E Mpumalanga and N KwaZulu-Natal) and E Swaziland.
  • L. f. tongensis Roberts, 1931 – SE & extreme S Mozambique (E Sul do Save and Lebombo Range) and E South Africa (coastal KwaZulu-Natal, including L St Lucia).
  • L. f. natalensis Roberts, 1922 – E & S South Africa (W & S KwaZulu-Natal S to extreme SW Eastern Cape at Plettenberg Bay).
  • L. f. pondoensis Roberts, 1922 – coastal forests of E Transkei (Pondoland), in NE Eastern Cape.
  • L. f. ferrugineus (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) – S Western Cape (E to Plettenberg Bay).
  • Descriptive notes

    21–23 cm; male 53–69 g and female 54–62 g (nominate and natalensis), male 44–53 g and female 42–51 g (tongensis). Male... read more


    Highly vocal; duet-singing frequent throughout day and year, with much regional variation in... read more


    Dense mesic woodland, favouring clumps of leafy bushes, tangles of creepers, coastal scrub,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Beetles (Coleoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), hairy caterpillars up to 90 mm long, bees (Hymenoptera), many snails (of species Helix... read more


    In South Africa breeds Aug–May (mainly Oct–Dec) in N, Sept–Dec (mainly Oct–Nov) in KwaZulu-Natal, and Aug–Mar... read more


    Sedentary, pair apparently remaining in same territory for life; one individual moved 15 km.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common to very common. Widespread but uncommon within small range in Botswana, where confined to Gaborone and Lobatse areas; in Zimbabwe,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fry, H. (2020). Southern Boubou (Laniarius ferrugineus). 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 24 February 2020).