It was while I was sitting in my garden at half past five this morning that I heard the loud melodious duet of a pair of Bokmakieries somewhere in the tangle of bush behind me. It is a sound that immediately takes me far away in my imagination to early mornings in either the Kruger National Park or the Addo Elephant National Park. At the latter place I can almost be guaranteed to see them in the vicinity of either Ghwarrie Dam or at the Domkrag waterhole, if not along the road.


While the Bokmakieries are regular visitors to our garden, they tend to be heard more often than they are seen – particularly since our garden has become more forested. I nonetheless see them now and then as they scour the lawn for something to eat or visit the feeding tray to inspect what is on offer. They are opportunistic feeders whose diet includes mostly insects, although I have seen them pecking at the fruit I put out.


They tend to be rather shy and flit about in the shrubbery. Their main beat seems to be the unruly clumps of Plumbago that grow near an open section of grass over the road from our garden. I have never found a nest or seen any chicks, although I feel sure they must breed either in our garden or nearby.

Bokmakieries are strikingly beautiful birds with grey-green upperparts, yellow eyebrows, yellow underparts, a characteristic black gorget or bib and a hooked bill typical of a bush shrike.


They lift my mood whenever I see or hear them and I feel privileged to have them around throughout the year.


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