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Brubru - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by volker sthamer
Mkomazi, Tanzania, September 2017
Nilaus afer


Subspecies brubru
Photo © by albertvoigts
Spitzkoppe, Namibia, 2006

12–15 cm (4¾-6 in)

  • Mantle and central back rufous to buff, but see "Variation" below
  • Mottled black and white rump
  • White-tipped black tail
  • Black crown
  • White supercilium and forehead
Juvenile, subspecies afer
Photo © by volker sthamer
Langano, Ethiopia, November 2011
  • Black eyestripe
  • Black wings with
    • Buff to white shoulder stripe
  • White underparts
  • Rufous flanks


  • Duller and browner
  • Streaked underparts
  • Less rufous flanks


  • Mottled brown, buff and white above
  • Buff edged wings and tail
  • White underparts with brown barring


The mantle and central back is black in some subspecies. The shoulder stripe varies from white to buff. The underside is white, to pale yellowish in some areas. The flank stripe is chestnut in some areas, white in others.


Subspecies solivagus
Photo © by safariranger
Shingwedzi Camp, Kruger National Park, South Africa, November 2006

Widespread in sub-saharan Africa
Western Africa: Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, DRC and Angola
Eastern Africa: Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi
Southern Africa: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and eSwatini (not found in the southern-most part of South Africa)


Nilaus is a monospecific genus. Its relationships are unclear, and in the past it has been variously treated in Laniidae, Prionopidae, Muscicapidae and Platysteiridae, before finding its current placement in Malaconotidae[1].


Nine subspecies are currently accepted[1][2]:

An extra subspecies N. l. hilgerti in eastern Ethiopia[3] is treated as a synonym of N. l. minor by other authorities[4].


Open broad-leaved woodland, and acacia savanna. Generally found in the canopy.



The diet consists of insects, including caterpillars, moths, beetles, ants, flies and grasshoppers.


They build a well camouflaged cup nest using twigs, grass and spider webs, decorated with lichens. The two whitish, greenish or greyish eggs have grey or brown blotches. They are incubated by both sexes for about 19 days; the young fledge in 22 days and are dependent on their parents for about eight weeks.

Brubrus are known to destroy their own nests when disturbed.


Call: A repeated "brrr brrr ..." (hence the common name); similar to a ringing telephone.


  1. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507
  2. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  3. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2014. IOC World Bird Names (version 4.4). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  4. Avibase
  5. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved December 2014)
  6. Wikipedia
  7. BF Member observations

Recommended Citation

External Links

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