Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus)

Brown Shrike

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Laniidae | [latin] Lanius cristatus | [UK] Brown Shrike | [FR] Pie-grieche brune | [DE] Rotschwanz-Wurger | [ES] Alcaudon Pardo | [NL] Bruine Klauwier


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Lanius cristatus EU e ne AF, OR
Lanius cristatus confusus
Lanius cristatus cristatus
Lanius cristatus lucionensis
Lanius cristatus superciliosus

Physical charateristics

The Brown Shrike is a small shrike. Like its relatives, it is long-tailed, and perches quite upright. The adult male’s upper parts and crown are darkish brown. The face is white with the typical shrike black “bandit-mask” through the eye. Underparts are yellowish buff, although the hues vary somewhat between the different races. Its call is a harsh chatter that pierces the early morning air. Females are less contrasted and have a greyer crown. Immature Brown Shrikes are scalloped on the underparts.

Listen to the sound of Brown Shrike

[audio: Shrike.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 23 cm wingspan max.: 24 cm
size min.: 19 cm size max.: 20 cm
incubation min.: 15 days incubation max.: 17 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 17 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 7  


Eurasia : East


Bushes or trees along the edges of coniferous or mixed deciduous and coniferous forest or in its clearings, as well as on forested steppes, in thickets along streams or on the edges of swamps.


A wide range of habitats is used for breeding, from taiga and deciduous forest to semi-desert. It builds its nest in a tree or bush. Beginning of breeding period in second half of June. Nests found on ground or in bushes of willow, dwarf birches and hawthorns. Nests constructed of stems and blades of previous year’s grass crop, with 6-7 eggs per clutch, color of eggs as in European form. Eggs laid once daily. Incubation begins with last egg. Nest is constructed by female. Juveniles hatch in early July and soon leave nest, hiding in grass in case of danger.

Feeding habits

The food is mainly insects and small birds and mammals, caught by a sally from a prominent perch. This is a typical shrike hunting technique.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Ranges from the eastern parts of western Siberia (middle Irtysh and Tomsk) and Russian Altai eastward, north to Turukhansk, Olenek River, to the lower Lena, the delta of the Kolyma, Anadyrland and Kamchatka, south to central Altai and perhaps the Gobian Altai, to northern Mongolia (Uriankhailand, Tannu Ola Range, and Khangai eastward to Kentei), southwestern Transbaicalia and southern foothills of the Stanovoi Range; grades into L. c. confusus in southeastern Transbaicalia in the region of Chita, and, perhaps, in northwestern Manchuria and upper course of the Zeya River in Amurland. Migrates through Mongolia, Manchuria, and throughout China to winter in southeastern China, Indo Chinese countries south through the Malay Peninsula to Sumatra, Anamba Islands and Borneo, and India west to the Punjab, south to Ceylon, and Andamans. This bird breeds across central and eastern Asia. It is migratory, wintering south to India, southeast Asia and Indonesia. In winter, Brown Shrike is found in secondary forest, often close to human habitation. This species is a rare vagrant to Europe, and has been recorded in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Brown Shrike status Least Concern


Most populations migratory, moving S in E Asia, with older birds leaving first; generally travels in small groups of 2-3 birds. Each race has a distinct non-breeding area with some overlap. In S breeding range some populations possibly only partially migratory.

Distribution map

Brown Shrike distribution range map

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