Mystery Bird: Tropical Boubou, Laniarius aethiopicus

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[Mystery bird] Tropical Boubou, Laniarius aethiopicus, photographed in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania, Africa. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Dan Logen, 8 August 2006 [larger view].

Nikon D2X, ISO 800, 200-400 VR lens at 360 mm. 1/60 sec, f/4.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

Regarding distinguishing the Tropical Boubou vs Black-backed Puffback, the photographer writes;

The Tropical Boubou has a black eye, the puffback a red eye.

Boubou with more white in the wing.

Boubou with pinkish tinge below (visible in my photo), with the puiffback all white.

Puffback with a white rump -- not always visible.

Boubou with a very melodic song -- often an antiphonal duet. I heard this one singing -- very beautiful!

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Tropical boubou ...Laniarius aethiopicus. Black back, tail and head, white below, white stripe on wings. Tail is shorter compared to the similarly colored shrikes (Lanius collaris and Lanius cabanisi). I'd love to hear them!

Good one Ruthie, but because this is part of a cryptic species complex, I'm going to go with Laniarius major (technically still a Tropical Boubou, but also called West African Boubou, esp. subspecies L. m. ambiguus)- long narrow wing stripe across the median and larger wing coverts, breast and belly pinkish (but varying between northern and southern populations), and although the outer tail feathers may have white tips, that is not always the case... my primary decision is therefore based upon location and not morphology with L. aethiopicus found in eastern Sudan through Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and western Somalia to nothern Kenya, but L. m. ambiguus confined to the highlands of Kenya and north-east Tanzania (which includes the Ngorongoro Conservation Area where the above photo was taken)

A situation similar then to some of our North American spotted thrushes? (Bicknell's and the Grey-cheeked Thrush) Polyphyly...cryptic species complex...clads...those terms weren't part of my 1970's ornithology class. Fascinating!