Laniarius atrococcineus, Photo: Michael Lahanas
Laniarius atrococcineus (Burchell, 1822)
Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa 1 p.387,note
The Crimson-breasted Gonolek (formerly Crimson-breasted Shrike) Laniarius atrococcineus, is an African bird occurring in a broad swathe from southern Angola to the Orange Free State in South Africa. This species was first collected by William John Burchell in 1811 near the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers. He named it atrococcineus meaning 'black/red', finding the striking colour combination quite remarkable. The generic name Laniarius was first coined by the French ornithologist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot and was meant to call attention to the butcher-like habits of the group. In South West Africa its colours reminded Germans of their homeland flag and it therefore became the Reichsvogel ("Empire bird"). This species is closely related to two other bushshrikes, the Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Laniarius barbarus and the Black-headed Gonolek of East Africa, Laniarius erythrogaster.
This shrike is extremely nimble and restless, its penetrating whistles being heard far more often than the bird is seen, its bright colour notwithstanding. The sexes have the same colouration and are indistinguishable from each other. A yellow-breasted form is occasionally seen, and was at first thought to be a separate species. Young birds have a mottled and barred buff-brown appearance with a pale bill.
The Crimson-breasted Gonolek's preferred habitat is drier thornbush areas, in thickets and riparian scrub. It makes small seasonal migrations, preferring lower altitudes during cold periods.
* Shrikes of Southern Africa - Tony Harris & Graeme Arnott (Struik Winchester 1988) ISBN 0 947430 08 3
* Merkle Tobias (2006): Territoriality, breeding biology and vocalisations of the Crimson-breasted Shrike. Ostrich 77:136-141
Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License