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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 5:49 EDT

Brubru

The Brubru (Nilau afers), is a member of the bushshrike family found in much of sub-Saharan Africa apart from the western rainforests and southern South Africa. It is the only member of the genus Nilaus. Its habitat is dry open woodland, but varies geographically. There are six northern subspecies of Brubru. One subspecies is found in acacia and broadleaved woodland of South Africa. Three others are found in a belt from northeastern Angola and northern Namibia east to Tanzania and northern Mozambique.

The Brubru is a small 4.75-5.90 inch long passerine. The adult male of the nominate subspecies, N. a. afer, has a black crown, white eye brows and forehead, and black eye stripe. The back is black with a tawny strip, the rump is mottled black, and the tail is black with white tips and edges to the outer feathers. The wings are black with a buff shoulder stripe. The under parts are white with rufous flanks.

The female is duller and browner, with some streaking on the under parts and less rufous on the flanks. The juvenile is mottled brown, buff and white above, with buff edgings to the wing and tail feathers. It’s under parts are whitish with brown barring. The male of the most distinctive of the other subspecies, N. a. nigritemporalis, occurring in the central belt across Africa, has no eye brows and a white, not buff, shoulder patch. Other subspecies differ in the extent of the eye brows and rufous flanks, and the shade and degree of streaking of the under parts.

The Brubru is usually solitary or in pairs. It is a restless but unobtrusive arboreal species which hunts insects in the canopy. Its need for large trees in which to feed means that it has an unusually large territory for a bird of its size, typically 35 hectares. If insects are abundant, it will join mixed-species feeding flocks.

The flimsy cup nest is constructed from twigs, grass and spider webs in a tree fork, and decorated with lichens. It is very well camouflaged. The normally two off-white, greenish or grayish eggs are blotched with grey or brown. Both sexes incubate for about 19 days to hatching. The chicks fledge in another 22 days but are dependent for about eight weeks.

Brubru