Grey cukooshrike

Grey cukooshrike
Coracina caesia

Photo by Ian White (Flickr)

Common name:
grey cuckooshrike (en); lagarteiro-cinzento (pt); échenilleur gris (fr); oruguero gris (es); waldraupenfänger (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Campephagidae

This species is patchily distributed in East Africa, from Ethiopia down to eastern and southern South Africa. There is also a population is southern Nigeria and western Cameroon.

These birds are 25-27 cm long and weigh about 65 g.

The grey cuckooshrike is mostly found in tropical moist forests, including mountain rainforests and coastal rainforests. They also use dry scrublands, plantations and areas along rivers and streams.

They are insectivorous, mostly hunting caterpillars, but also grasshoppers, beetles and spiders in the upper canopy of the forest.

Grey cuckooshrikes breed in October-February. The nest is shallow bowl built of old-man’s beard lichen Usnea sp. cemented with spider web and placed either on a thick branch or in the fork of a tree, usually on the forest edge. There the female lays 1-2 eggs which are incubated by both sexes. There is no information regarding the length of the incubation and fledgling periods, but the chicks are known to remain with the parents until the next breeding season.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large but patchy breeding range. It is reported to be common in the north of its range, but uncommon in the south. This population is suspected to be in decline owing to habitat destruction.

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