This rare forest-dwelling bird is named for its vivid orangey-red breast. The orange-breasted bush-shrike also wears a ‘cap’ of rust coloured plumage on top of its head, which, along with the bright breast, contrasts with the black upperparts and white lower underparts. A white line also streaks across the black wings (2). The orange-breasted bush-shrike can be highly vocal, and calls with a throaty ‘waark’ and ‘whoook’, or with a soft, whistling ‘bou-bou’ (3).
Like other bush-shrikes, this orange-breasted species is a rather shy bird, preferring to remain in dense cover (3). African bush-shrikes feed mainly on a diet of large insects and even small rodents (4).
The region of Angola inhabited by the orange-breasted bush-shrike has been subject to steady deforestation in recent decades, with an increase in slash-and-burn cultivation and the removal of timber trees. As the orange-breasted bush-shrike is known from only a small area, this habitat destruction poses a great threat to the species’ survival (2).
It is possible that the orange-breasted bush-shrike may occur within the Kisama, (or Quiçãma) National Park (2), although even within this supposedly protected area there are continuous problems with illegal cultivation, cutting and other pressures from the human population inhabiting the park (5). There are currently no known conservation measures in place for this Endangered species, although it has been recommended that surveys to determine the distribution and population size of the orange-breasted bush-shrike, along with assessments of the current extent of forest cover, should be undertaken once the civil unrest in Angola subsides (2).
Sinclair, I. and Ryan, P. (2003) Birds of Africa: South of the Sahara. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
Fuchs, J., Bowie, R.C.K., Fjeldså, J. and Pasquet, E. (2004) Phylogenetic relationships of the African bush-shrikes and helmet-shrikes (Passeriformes: Malaconotidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 33(2): 428 - 439.
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