Wildlife: A Puffback Display

20th November 2015
I love going back over old images because I always find some gems I'd completely forgotten about. This image is far from one of my best (in fact, I look forward to some abuse from fellow photographers in the comments about the background and the unfortunate leaf) but it shows some wonderful behaviour.

This little bird is a Southern Puffback, or Puffback Shrike. It's a noisy and abundant resident across woodland in Southern Africa, most easily located by its clicking and whistling call.



It earns its name from the breeding display of the males which involves turning his rump feathers inside out, forming a large and conspicuous powder-puff. He then pursues his chosen female around, showing off his puff. He flies in an awkward way, as if pretending the puff is very heavy, and hoping that the female will notice how strong he is!

It is sightings such as this which I would always point out to guests on a photographic safari, whether they present a good photo opportunity or not. The bush is full of wonders and it's a shame to miss them.

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