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Retz's Helmet-Shrike | Prionops retzii

The Retz's Helmet-Shrike is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Malaconotidae bird family group which includes birds such as Bush-shrikes, Puffbacks, Tchagras, Boubous, Helment-shrikes, Batises, Wattle-eyes.

The description for the Retz's Helmet-Shrike (Latin name Prionops retzii) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Prionops retzii can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 754 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 709. You will find a picture of the Retz's Helmet-Shrike on page 721.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

This bird is known as Red-billed Helmet-Shrike in the Roberts 6th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Retz's Helmet-Shrike between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition

The Retz's Helmet-Shrike is known in Afrikaans as Swarthelmlaksman.

The Retz's Helmet-Shrike has a height of 23 cms and weighs around 44 gms. The head is coloured blue, black while the bill is coloured crimson. The Prionops retzii has a blue, black coloured throat, orange legs and a blue, black coloured back. The eyes are orange.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is blue, black

Eyes are orange

Bill is crimson

Legs are orange

Throat is blue, black

Back is blue, black

Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground

and feeds on the tree trunk

This bird hunts for small reptiles such as lizards, geckos and bush snakes. The Retz's Helmet-Shrike strikes poisonous snakes on the head with one fatal blow which kills the snake instantly. There have been cases were this bird has been killed by a snake while hunting. Some birds have been blinded by Cobra venom.

This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten .

Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Retz's Helmet-Shrike is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 3 to 5 eggs and they are coloured grey.

The nest is built high up in the tree canopy and is protected from predators by branches and the dense green foligae.

The Retz's Helmet-Shrike is mainly found in light and densely wooded forests, where there are Mopane trees.

The bird is found in the African bushveld

This bird is very common in most of the Southern African Forests

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

This bird is usually seen in small family groups or in large flocks

The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition * edited by PAR Hockey, WRJ Dean and PG Ryan, published by "The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund."

copyright: Tony Roocroft +27-11-454-0105

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