Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus)

Masked Shrike

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Laniidae | [latin] Lanius nubicus | [UK] Masked Shrike | [FR] Pie-grieche masquee | [DE] Maskenwurger | [ES] Alcaudon enmascarado | [NL] Maskerklauwier


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Cyclarhis nubicus
Lanius nubicus
Lanius nubicus EU sc ne AF

Physical charateristics

Small rather slim shrike, with proportionately longest and slimmest tail of west Palearctic Lannuse and much less bold behaviour than other species.
Male essentially black and white, with white forehead ane supercilium and pale rufous body-sides. Female and immature less distinctive but show characteristic head and scapular markings and unusual rust-buff scales on back and wing-coverts.
Sexes dissimilar, little seasonal variation.

Listen to the sound of Masked Shrike

[audio: Shrike.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 24 cm wingspan max.: 26 cm
size min.: 17 cm size max.: 18 cm
incubation min.: 14 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 18 days fledging max.: 15 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 7  


Eurasia : Southcentral


Breeds in west Palearctic in lower middle latitudes, mostly in Mediterranean warm zone and in hilly terrain, often less open and with higher tree cover than habitats favoured by most Lanius.
Found in almost any kind of wooded country, in more open glades of forest and where there are isolated big trees in the open, as well as in high scrub, olive groves, and gardens. Nests in planes and cypresses.


Early April to mid June in Cyprus, mid April to end of May in Greece, end of April to mid May in Turkey. Nest site is slung below twigs at end of lateral branch, moulded on top of broad branch, in fork, or against trunk of tree, or in dense, often thorny bush. Nest is carefully constructed, compact, often inconspicuous structure of rootlets, bark strips, pine needles, plant down, plant stems, lichen, moss, cloth, string, cardboard, lined with sheep’s wool, hair, rootlets,fine stems, etc.
Clutch size 4-7 eggs, incubation 14-15 days, by female only.

Feeding habits

Insects, mainly grasshoppers, and beetles, lizards, and small passerine birds, notably and perhaps exclusively exhausted migrants.
Hunts from exposed perch on top of small tree or bush, or from cover on side of taller tree or in thick scrub. Drops or swoops on ground prey, often hovering briefly, either returning to perch, flying to another, or consuming prey on ground, or takes flying insects in rapid twisting aerial pursuit like flycatcher. also picks invertebrates from foliage.


This species has a very 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 is very large, and hence does not 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.
Lanius nubicus is a summer visitor to south-eastern Europe, which constitutes >50%
of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is relatively small
(<100,000 pairs), and underwent a large decline between 1970-1990. Although populations in Cyprus, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were stable or increased during 1990-2000, the species declined in Greece and its Turkish stronghold, and underwent a moderate decline (>10%) overall.
Masked Shrike status Least Concern


All populations migratory, wintering in sub-Saharan Africa, mainly south to c. 10 degrees N in Sudan and Ethiopia, west to eastern Mali. Passage mainly through east Mediterranean at both seasons. Marked passage though Cyprus but exceptional in Crete.
Autumn passage in Mediterranean area mainly mid-August to mid-September, reaching winter quarters August-September. Leaves winter quarters usually from February onwards, passing through Mediterranean area mainly mid-March to April and arriving on breeding grounds mainly mid-April to mid-May.

Distribution map

Masked Shrike distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *