The Shrikes are some of my favorite birds. In Bulgaria there are five Shrike species. I'm going to tell you something about each one of them .
The Masked Shrike ( Lanius nubicus) is a member of the shrike family Laniidae. It breeds in southeastern Europe and the eastern end of the Mediterranean, with a separate population in western Iran. It is a common species in Turkey, Cyprus, Israel and Syria. It is migratory, wintering in northeast Africa.
The Great Grey Shrike, Northern Grey Shrike, or Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) is a large songbird species in the shrike family (Laniidae). It forms a superspecies with its parapatric southern relatives, the Southern Grey Shrike (L. meridionalis), the Chinese Grey Shrike (L. sphenocerus) and the Loggerhead Shrike (L. ludovicianus). Within the Great Grey Shrike species itself, there are nine subspecies. Males and females are similar in plumage, pearly grey above with a black eye-mask and white underparts.
Breeding takes place generally north of 50° northern latitude in northern Europe and Asia (where it is known as the Great Grey Shrike), and in North America (where it is known as the Northern Shrike) north of 55° northern latitude in Canada and Alaska. Most populations migrate south in winter to temperate regions. The Great Grey Shrike is carnivorous, with rodents making up over half its diet.
The Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator) is a member of the shrike family Laniidae.
The Woodchat breeds in southern Europe, the Middle East and northwest Africa, and winters in tropical Africa. It breeds in open cultivated country, preferably with orchard trees and some bare or sandy ground.
This migratory medium-sized passerine eats large insects, small birds and small amphibians. Like other shrikes it hunts from prominent perches, and impales corpses on thorns or barbed wire as a "larder".
The male is a striking bird with black and white plumage and a chestnut crown. The race L. s. badius of the western Mediterranean lacks the large white wing patches.
In the female and young birds the upperparts are brown and vermiculated. Underparts are buff and also vermiculated.
This species often overshoots its breeding range on spring migration, and is a rare, but annual, visitor to Great Britain. The Balearic race badius has occurred in Britain around four times as a vagrant, and has also been recorded once in Ireland.
The Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) is a carnivorous passerine bird and member of the shrike family Laniidae.
This 16–18 cm (approx. 6.3–7.1 inches) long migratory bird eats large insects, small birds, frogs, rodents and lizards. Like other shrikes it hunts from prominent perches, and impales corpses on thorns or barbed wire as a "larder." This practice has earned it the nickname of "butcher bird."
The general colour of the male’s upper parts is reddish. It has a grey head and a typical shrike black stripe through the eye. Underparts are tinged pink, and the tail has a black and white pattern similar to that of a wheatear. In the female and young birds the upperparts are brown and vermiculated. Underparts are buff and also vermiculated.
This bird breeds in most of Europe and western Asia and winters in tropical Africa. Once a common migratory visitor to Great Britain, numbers declined sharply during the 20th century. The bird's last stronghold was in Breckland but by 1988 just a single pair remained, successfully raising young at Santon Downham. The following year for the first time no nests were recorded in the UK. But since then sporadic breeding has taken place, mostly in Scotland and Wales. In September 2010 the RSPB announced that a pair had raised chicks at a secret location on Dartmoor where the bird last bred in 1970. In 2011, two pairs nested in the same locality, fledging seven young. This return to south western England has been an unexpected development and has raised speculation that a warming climate could assist the bird in re-colonising some of its traditional sites, if only in small numbers.
The Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor) is a member of the shrike family Laniidae.
It is similar in appearance to the Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor and the Southern Grey Shrike L. meridionalis. It breeds in southeastern Europe and into Asia.
This species prefers dry open lowlands, and is prominent on telephone wires.
It is slightly smaller than the Great Grey Shrike, and has a black forehead and relatively longer wings.
This medium-sized migratory passerine eats large insects, small birds and lizards. Like other shrikes it hunts from prominent perches, and impales corpses on thorns or barbed wire as a "larder".
It is a scarce vagrant to western Europe, including Great Britain, usually as a spring overshoot.
I've ringed only Red-backed Shrikes mostly from nests. But there is one problem ..Often the little Red-backed Shrikes jump from the nest when I come near it. So it's very difficult to ring them without scaring them. Last year I caught 7year old male Red-backed Shrike that was ringed in a nest by my father. Here is a picture of it :
Soon I will spend some time searching for Red-backed Shrike nests. If I manage to find some I will make video about it. Wish mi luck !
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