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Lagden's Bush-shrike Malaconotus lagdeni

This species is listed as Near Threatened because it is suspected to be experiencing an ongoing moderately rapid population decline, owing to the extensive clearance and degradation of forest across its range; it almost qualifies as threatened under criteria A2c+3c+4c. Any evidence that this species is undergoing a rapid population decline might qualify it for uplisting to a higher threat category.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Distribution and population
Malaconotus lagdeni has a disjunct distribution in West and Central Africa, from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Togo in the west and Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Central Africa (Dowsett and Forbes-Watson 1993). The type specimen was collected from forest near Kumasi in Ghana in the 1884, but following this there were no confirmed sight records in the country during the 20th century (Fry et al. 2000, F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R.J. Dowsett in litt. 2005). In February 2005, two birds were located in the proposed Kyabobo National Park, on the border with Togo in eastern Ghana (F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R.J. Dowsett in litt. 2005). In Togo, there is a sight record on the Pagala to Ghana road in 1990 (Fry et al. 2000). In Sierra Leone it is rare, in Liberia it has been estimated there may be over 6,000 pairs (Gatter 1997), while in Côte d'Ivoire it is rare in Taï National Park (M. Gartshore in litt. 1999) and scarce in Yapo Forest (Demey and Fishpool 1994). In Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda, it is very rare, but is more common in the drier forests of Gishwati to the north and in Bwindi Forest in Uganda (Dowsett-Lemaire 1990). In the eastern DRC it occurs in montane forest from 1,400-3,300 m where it is quite rare (Lippens and Wille 1976).

Population justification
In Liberia, the population is estimated to number c.6,000 pairs, roughly equivalent to 18,000 individuals. Conservatively, this is taken to constitute 25-49% of the species's range, so a very preliminary estimate of the overall population size is 36,000-72,000 individuals. It is precautionarily placed in the band 20,000-49,999 individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to extensive clearance and degradation of forest across its range.

The species inhabits the middle strata and canopy of evergreen rainforest, in lowland areas in West Africa and montane areas in Central Africa (Fry et al. 2000). In the Rift Valley mountains it is found up to 2,500 m (Fry et al. 2000). Two birds recorded in the proposed Kyabobo National Park in 2005 were in semi-evergreen rainforest at 300-500 m (F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R.J. Dowsett in litt. 2005). It is most numerous in undisturbed forest, but nevertheless occurs in lightly and sometimes heavily logged forest (Fry et al. 2000). It forages by gleaning branches for invertebrates and also takes small vertebrates, including frogs, lizards and birds. The only nest seen well was a bowl of dry leaves and bracken, 3.5 m above the ground in the forks of a small tree. Its clutch-size may be two. The species's breeding season is unclear, but observations from across its range suggest breeding activity from July to January, at least (Fry et al. 2000).

It it expected that the species is affected by commercial logging operations in the Upper Guinea region (Anon. 2000), in particular, and clearance for agriculture and subsistence-level timber harvesting across its range. In the Upper Guinea region logging operations attract settlers, who in turn increase the threat of forest encroachment for small-holder cultivation (Anon. 2000).

Conservation Actions Underway
The species has been recorded in several protected areas. Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to obtain a total population estimate. Monitor population trends through regular surveys. Monitor rates of forest clearance and degradation across its range. Increase the area of suitable habitat which has protected area status.

Demey, R.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 1994. The birds of Yapo forest, Ivory Coast. Malimbus 16: 100-122.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F. 1990. Eco-ethology, distribution and status of Nyungwe Forest birds, Rwanda. In: Dowsett, R.J. (ed.), Enquête faunistique et floristique dans la Forêt de Nyungwe, Rwanda, pp. 31-85. Tauraco Press, Ely, U.K.

Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Liège, Belgium.

Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 2000. The birds of Africa vol. VI. Academic Press, London.

Gatter, W. 1997. Birds of Liberia. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Lippens, L.; Wille, H. 1976. Les oiseaux du Zaïre. La Presidence de la Republique du Zaïre, Lusaka.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
O'Brien, A., Robertson, P., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.

Dowsett, R., Dowsett-Lemaire, F. & Gartshore, M.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Malaconotus lagdeni. Downloaded from on 27/11/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/11/2015.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Malaconotidae (Helmetshrikes, bushshrikes and puffbacks)
Species name author (Sharpe, 1884)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 339,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change