Family Bush-shrikes (Malaconotidae)

Least Concern

Zanzibar Boubou (Laniarius sublacteus)


French: Gonolek de Cassin German: Keniawürger Spanish: Bubú de Cassin
Other common names: East Coast Boubou

Dryoscopus sublacteus


, 1851,

Lamu, Kenya


Until quite recently, widely treated as a race of L. aethiopicus, but recent molecular studies#R indicate closer relationship with L. ferrugineus (which see). Black birds thought to be a morph of present species in NE Kenya now established as a separate species, L. nigerrimus#R (which see). Race somaliensis sometimes attributed to L. aethiopicus, but recent study#R found no genetic difference between it and sublacteus (from which it differs in having white bar on median upperwing-coverts). Birds in S of range (Tanzania) may represent a separate taxon, differing genetically#R#R from those in N; more study needed. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. s. somaliensis Reichenow, 1905 – Jubba Valley, in S Somalia.
  • L. s. sublacteus (Cassin, 1851) – coastal lowlands of extreme S Somalia (Boni Forest), Kenya (inland along river valleys to Garissa, S Tsavo East National Park, S Tsavo West National Park and L Jipe) and N Tanzania (L Jipe E to N Pare Mts, and at coast from Tanga S to Zanzibar I, inland to E Usambara Mts, Uluguru Mts and Udzungwa Mts).
  • Descriptive notes

    22–25 cm; male 43–50 g, female 40–55 g. Adult has forehead to hindneck, lores, cheek, ear-coverts, side of neck and upperparts slightly glossy bluish black... read more


    Wide repertoire of croaks, snarls, tearing sounds, short "bou" notes and long whistles,... read more


    Dense vegetation in highland forest and forest edge and riverbank woods, in dense cover of thickets... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insects, also small fruits and small vertebrates. Shy and retiring, foraging mainly in deep shade and dense cover low down, or often... read more


    Season Dec–Mar. Seemingly monogamous. Strongly territorial, defending territory vocally and by chasing. Nest a shallow, loosely knit... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Only recently regarded as a distinct species, separate from the common and widespread L. aethiopicus. Frequent in much of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fry, H. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Zanzibar Boubou (Laniarius sublacteus). 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).