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Campephaga flava (Black cuckooshrike) 

Swartkatakoeroe [Afrikaans]; Umthethi (also applied to Olive bush-shrike - CHECK), Usinga Olumnyama [Xhosa]; iNhlangu [Zulu]; Rankwitšidi [North Sotho]; Kaapse rupsvogel [Dutch]; Échenilleur à épaulettes jaunes [French]; Kuckuckswürger [German]; Lagarteiro-preto [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora >Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Campephagidae

Campephaga flava (Black cuckooshrike) 

Black cuckooshrike female, Helderberg Nature Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Campephaga flava (Black cuckooshrike) Campephaga flava (Black cuckooshrike) 

Black cuckooshrike female. [photo Martin Goodey ©]

Black cuckooshrike male, Weenen Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, South Africa. [photo Alan Manson ©]

For information about this species, see www.birdforum.net/opus/Black_Cuckooshrike

Distribution and habitat

Mainly occurs in Africa south of the equator from southern Sudan, Kenya and the DRC down to southern Africa. Here it is generally uncommon, occupying much of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, northern and south-eastern Botswana and northern Namibia. In South Africa it can be found across the Kruger National Park and eastern KwaZulu-Natal, extending down the coast to the south-western cape. It generally favours Broad-leaved burkea and mixed woodland, also occurring along the edges of evergreen forest and in well-wooded gardens.

Distribution of Black cuckooshrike in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


It mainly eats insects, getting most of its prey by gleaning leaves and branches, often joining mixed species foraging flocks. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest is built solely by the female and consists of a cup built of of moss, lichens and old-man's beard lichen (Usnea) bound together with spider web. It is usually placed in a vertical fork of a tree branch, often high up in the tree.
Campephaga flava (Black cuckooshrike)  

Black cuckooshrike nest with eggs, Sericea, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • It lays 1-3 eggs, which are incubated by the female for about 20 days - the male feeding her at the nest.
  • The checks are fed by both adults but brooded only by the female, leaving the nest after about 20-23 days.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.