The Southern Boubou (Laniarus ferrugineas) is a bush-shrike commonly residing on forest edges, in thickets and in some suburban gardens. I am happy that a pair has chosen to become more at home here – certainly the part of our garden where I see them fairly regularly – this year more often than before – is bordered by what one could call a thicket. It is a tangled mass of Cape honeysuckle, indigenous bushes and the remains of an ancient plum tree. This area is particularly suited to them as they prefer to feed on the ground and hop through the low dense foliage to find invertebrates as well as coming to inspect the feeding tray, where they eat fruit and are particularly fond of fish, meat or cheese!
In the world of birds it is common to see the males looking dramatically attractive in contrast to the duller looking females – guess which one has to blend in with the nest! This might be true of the Southern Boubou insofar as the female is greyer – the males are clearly black-and-white – yet their underparts have an attractive cinnamon wash. I think it looks attractive, although this too is a colour that blends easily into their surroundings: watch a boubou enter a thicket and in two ticks it seems to have disappeared.
Thanks to their colouring and their skulking habits, these boubous are heard more often than they are seen and so I have been pleased with their increasing presence: I mostly see the female, although the male sometimes comes on his own or joins the female briefly.