Yellow-crowned Gonolek

The Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Laniarius barbarus, is a beautiful bird species that belongs to the family of bush-shrikes. It is widely distributed throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and it is particularly common in savannah areas with scattered trees and bushes. Having said that…

Yellow-crowned Gonolek, The Gambia

On my first visit to West Africa, people talked about how nice the Yellow-crowned Gonolek was…and how common. During two weeks I didn’t see a single one. Heard them every now and then as their call is very distinctive.

On my second visit, I always arrived just too late. Sometimes the bird had been perched, or running around, for ages…until I got there. I heard it constantly, from dawn till dusk. Then, suddenly, after about ten days, I got to see it!

Thereafter, which is invariably typical, I came across them everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. I would look into dense undergrowth after hear rustling and my predominant exclamation would be, ‘it’s a Gonolek’.

The Yellow-crowned Gonolek is a striking bird with bright yellow underparts and a black head, back, and wings. The crown of the male bird is yellow, while the female has a brown crown. It grows to a length of around 22cm with a long tail and relatively short wings. The bird has a distinctive call that is loud, melodious, and repetitive, and it is often described as a “wheep-wheep-wheep” sound.

Yellow-crowned Gonolek, West Africa

This bird species is mainly insectivorous, feeding on insects such as grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars. They also feed on small reptiles and occasionally small birds. They are active and agile hunters, and they can be seen darting from branch to branch in search of prey.

The Yellow-crowned Gonolek is a monogamous bird species, and both male and female birds participate in nest building. The nest is typically constructed in a thorny bush, and it is made up of twigs, grass, and other plant material. The female bird lays between 2 to 4 eggs, which are incubated for about two weeks by both parents.

Yellow-crowned Gonolek

This bird species is not considered endangered, and it is common in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. They are adaptable birds that can thrive in a range of habitats, including farmland, scrubland, and open woodland. However, like many other bird species, the Yellow-crowned Gonolek is threatened by habitat loss, hunting, and other human activities that negatively impact their habitat.