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Black-backed Puffback - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Leon
Location: Pretoria, South Africa. June 2004.
Dryoscopus cubla


Length 17-18cm; Weight 19-36g.
Eyes yellow, orange or red; bill black; legs and feet grey.
Size smaller than Fiscal Shrike; tail relatively short; mainly black-and-white.
Male: Above black; rump grayish white; no white eyebrow; wings black-and-white; below white; tail black. Named from the loose feathers on the male's rump and lower back.
Female: Similar to male, but less intensely black; white areas more buff or grayish white. She has a white supercilium where the male as an all black cap to below the eye.
Immature: Deep buff olive where adults white.

Displaying Male
Photo © by Alan Manson
Mkhuze GR, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, September 2009


Africa south of 5°N.2



Dryoscopus cubla has five subspecies:

  • D. c. affinis:
  • D. c. nairobiensis:
  • D. c. hamatus:
  • D. c. okavangensis:
  • D. c. cubla:
Photo © by njlarsen
Greater Kruger area, South Africa, August 2011


Woodland, thicket and forest.


Male's Display: The male puffs out the white rump feathers "to form a remarkable white ball, then bows, droops vibrating wings, and spreads tail. He makes short 'butterfly' flights with the puff expanded, and may drop vertically through the air with raised wings. Courting birds audibly click their wings" (Zimmerman et al. 1996).


The diet includes invertebrates, eaten on the wing.


They nest in a tree or shrub and 2-3 cream eggs are laid.


  1. Clements, JF. 2009. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2009. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019.
  2. Sinclair I & Ryan P. 2003. Birds of Africa south of the Sahara. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0620207299

Recommended Citation

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