Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

Red-backed Shrike

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Laniidae | [latin] Lanius collurio | [UK] Red-backed Shrike | [FR] Pie-grieche ecorcheur | [DE] Neuntoter | [ES] Alcaudon de Dorso Rojo | [NL] Grauwe Klauwier


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Lanius collurio EU c, w s AF
Lanius collurio collurio
Lanius collurio kobylini

Physical charateristics

Rather small, quite bold, raptorial passerine, with thick, hooked bill, fairly short wings, and relatively long tail, epitome of family in temperate Europe.
Plumage of male distinctive, with blue-grey and white head interrupted by black bill and mask, rufous back and inner wings, and white-edged black tail diagnostic.
Female and immature essentially brown above, dull white below with much barring. Habitually perches prominently.
Sexes dissimilar, no seasonal variation.

Listen to the sound of Red-backed Shrike

[audio: Shrike.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 24 cm wingspan max.: 27 cm
size min.: 16 cm size max.: 18 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 16 days
fledging min.: 14 days fledging max.: 16 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 7  


Eurasia : Central, West


Breeds in middle latitudes of west Palearctic in temperate, Mediterranean, and steppe climates, mainly continental and lowland. Require sonny, sheltered, warm, dry or even semi-arid , and level or gently sloping terrain, with scattered or open growth of bushes, shrubs, to low trees providing hunting look-out posts commanding areas of short grass, heath, or bare soil suitable for small prey.


Breedng starts Mid May to early June in Finland, May-July in West Germany, mid May to early July in North Rumania. Nest site, is generally built in low dense often thorny bush but sometimes high and easily visible in trees, in some areas also in woodpiles. Nest is loose foundation of often green plant stems, reed leaves and stems, roots, grass, lichen, hair, etc., compactly lined with grass, hair, moss, fur, reed or reed-mace flower-heads, plant down, etc.
Clutch size 3-7 eggs, incubation 12-16 days, typically by female, but males recorded incubating, sometimes for long periods

Feeding habits

Mainly insects, chiefly beetles, also other invertebrates, small mammals, birds, and reptiles. Most prey located from exposed, though usually low, perch using sit and wait strategy. Large moving insects spotted up to 30 m away, and caught in bill after shallow direct glide, sometimes with outstretched neck, which may terminate in brief hover before bird drops into vegetation. Also drops straight onto prey below perch. Vehemence of this action may be shown by strikingly worn forehead plumage


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 is extremely 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 collurio is a widespread summer visitor to much of Europe, which accounts
for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is
very large (>6,300,000 pairs), but underwent a moderate decline between 1970-1990.
Although declines continued in several countries during 1990-2000, most eastern
populations remained stable, and trend data were not available for the key populations
in Russia and Spain. Nevertheless, the species probably declined only slightly overall.
This shrike inhabits the major part of Europe and Western Asia, north to 64

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