Magpie Shrike..

Magpie Shrike (Urolestes melanoleucus), also known as the African Long-tailed Shrike.

A truly beautiful bird to photograph, when you can capture them sitting searching for food on the ground or in the surrounding trees. It feeds mainly on insects, caterpillars, ants and beetles, which it will sit quietly on a branch, or on the ground and watch for.

It is also unusual in that the breeding pair are normally assisted by the last brood to feed the new born. I think it is called facultative cooperative breeding. However the male and female construct the nest and the younger birds have never been observed aiding in the construction. Typical of young never want to clean up around the house, however the aid in feeding almost guarantees the successful raising of the young.

The nest consists of an untidy cup made of twigs, grass stems and roots, typically placed in the upper branches of an Acacia tree.

The female lays 2-6 eggs, which are incubated by her for about 16 days, the male and group members providing her with food. The chicks are cared for both by the parents and group members, they leave the nest after about 15-19 days. Allowing the parents to lay a second set of eggs per breeding season, and the  fledglings help to rear the next brood. Now that’s family co-operation… I only have two photos of this bird and here they are…

Thur 21-07-2011 233

game res 18-07-2011 178