Bird of the Week – Crimsonbreasted shrike

By: BRUCE MUNRO

THE crimsonbreasted shrike is the national bird of Namibia and is also known as the Reichsvogel as its colours are the same as the German republic flag.

Found in the dry interior, the western half of Limpopo, North West Province, Northern Cape, the whole of Botswana and Namibia, this shrike is a common resident that enjoys acacia savanna, riverine thornbush and semi-arid scrub.

The voice is a loud, penetrating bell-like, flute-like, zipping or tearing sound ‘kirik-dzui-kirik’ with several other snarling or clicking notes.

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Crimson shrikes are found solitary or in pairs. They forage mostly by running about on the ground, but also search rough-barked trunks and branches of trees for insects.

This shrike is not shy and responds to spishing. They fly fairly high between patches of bush or trees, showing their bright red underparts.

Breeding season is from September to April. They lay two to three white, buff, pale green or blue-speckled eggs in a bowl-shaped nest made of bark and secured with spiders’ webs.

Incubation is 16 to 19 days and nestlings remain for 18 to 20 days.

There is no Zulu name as they are not found in KZN. In Afrikaans the bird is known as rooiborslaksman.

When a birder spishes, he imitates the scolding or warning notes that some songbirds utter to alert others of a lurking predator. It’s a universal alarm call, so when you spish, songbirds often pop into view to investigate, which is why birders employ it as a means to spot otherwise elusive birds.

 

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South Coast Sun

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