Yellowcrowned gonolek

Laniarius barbarus

SUBFAMILY

Malaconotinae

TAXONOMY

Lanius barbarus Linnaeus, 1766, Senegal. Two races; slight differences mainly affecting coloration of crown and nape.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Gonolek de Barbarie; German: Goldscheitelwürger; Spanish: Gonolek Común.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

9.0-9.8 in (23-25 cm); on average 1.7 oz (49 g). A robust, relatively large, and brightly colored species. The similar sexes have black upperparts contrasting with a golden crown, brown

eyes, and vermilion red underparts. Juveniles are similar, but have duller upperparts and buffy underparts with heavy dark barring. Race helenae has a deeper reddish crown.

DISTRIBUTION

Western Africa from southern Mauritania to northern Cameroon. Helenae is confined to coastal areas in Cameroon.

HABITAT

Dense, woody undergrowth in savannas; the Sierra Leone race inhabits mangroves.

BEHAVIOR

Occurs singly or in pairs. Spends much time in low vegetation and on the ground, but may also look for prey on small branches up to about 16 ft (5 m). Its flight is short and appears heavy. More often heard than seen; produces remarkable duets that sound as if they were produced by a single bird. Sedentary as far as known.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Arthropods, mainly insects and particularly caterpillars and grasshoppers. Said to predate on birds' nests.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous and territorial. Few precise data available. The nest is hidden relatively low, between 4.9 and 14.8 ft (1.5-4.5 m) in a dense bush or a small tree. It receives two, or more rarely three, eggs. Eggs may be laid at any time of the year.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. The precise status of the Sierra Leone race might require further investigations.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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