Red-backed shrike

   ›      ›   Red-backed shrike - Lanius collurio

The red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio) belongs to the family of shrikes, the Laniidae.

The red-backed shrike species is distributed in Europe, central west Asia, Mediterranean region and south and east Africa. These shrike species often impale their prey on thorns and barbs. These shrikes are monotypic species.
Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Red-backed Shrike Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Appearance, physical description and identification

The red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio) is a small sized shrike, measuring 16 to 20 cm in length and weighing 20 to 35 grams. These birds are sexually dimorphic.

The male red-backed shrike has bluish-gray head and a broad black eye mask combining the supercilium and lore. The upperparts are reddish (rather chestnut). The throat and underparts are whitish with pink tinge. The uppertail is black with white outer margin.

The female and juvenile red-backed shrikes lack the black eye mask. The upperparts are brownish with vermiculation. The underparts are buff and also vermiculated. The distal end of the undertail is dark brown in both male and female.

The bill is black and the tip of the upper mandible is hooked. The irises are black. There is a dark gray eye-ring. The legs and feet are gray. The call of these species is a loud, muffled "cha..cha..cha" or "kah..kah..kah" sound.
Indian birds - Image of Red-backed shrike - Lanius collurio
1.Birds of India - Photo of Red-backed shrike - Lanius collurio by Antonios Tsaknakis

Birds of India - Photo of Red-backed shrike - Lanius collurio
2.Indian birds - Photo of Red-backed shrike - Lanius collurio by Soner Bekir

Indian birds - Photo of Red-backed shrike - Lanius collurio
3.Birds of India - Photo of Red-backed shrike - Lanius collurio by Derek Keats

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The red-backed shrikes are distributed in Europe, central and west Asia, Mediterranean region and south and east Africa. Autumn passage migrants occur in Gujarat state in India, Pakistan and northern Africa.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of these red-backed shrikes in Belgium are, Marche en Famenne, Lesse et Lomme, Hautes Fagnes/Eifel, Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse and Côte Bajocienne.

Some of the IBA of these shrikes in France are, Vallée du Régino, Vallée de la Saône de Corre à Broye, Vallée de l'Aisne, Val de Saône, Val de Chiers et environs de Spincourt, Sologne Bourbonnaise, Ried de Colmar et Sélestat and Arjuzanx.

The IBA of the red-backed shrike in Netherlands are, Veluwe, Duinen Terschelling, Duinen Schiermonnikoog, Duinen Ameland and Bargerveen. The IBA in Russia is Buzulukski forest.

Ecosystem and habitat

These red-backed shrike species have low forest dependence. They normally occur in altitudes from 0 to 3200 meters.

The artificial ecosystems and habitats of these species include rural gardens, plantations, agricultural lands, pasturelands and urban areas.

The natural ecosystems and habitats of these red-backed shrike species include tropical and subtropical high altitude grasslands, temperate grasslands and shrublands, boreal and temperate forests, dry savanna and wetlands.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these red-backed shrike species consists mainly of insects. Beetles, grasshoppers, locusts, dragon flies, crickets, moths, caterpillars, spiders and small vertebrates are their primary food.

These shrike species glean insects in the foliage and pick them from ground. They also feed by flycatching. Prey animals are often impaled on thorns.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these red-backed shrike species is from May to July in most of their breeding range. In some rare cases a second brood is raised.

These species are monogamous. The nesting sites are located low down in dense thorny bushes. The nest is a cup-like structure woven with twigs, grass, moss, fur and reed. The clutch contains three to seven white eggs with gray and pink spots.

Migration and movement patterns

These red-backed shrike species are fully migratory birds. The breeding populations are distributed in the Europe, central and west Asia and Mediterranean region during summer.

The species migrate southwards in September to south and east Africa for wintering. They are regular autumn passage migrants in Gujarat state in India, Pakistan and northern Africa.

Red-backed shrike - Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Lanius collurio
  • Species author: Linnaeus, 1758
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Lanius collurio Linnaeus, 1758
  • Family: Laniidae › Passeriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Red-backed shrike, Chinese: 红背伯劳, French: Pie-grièche écorcheur, German: Neuntöter, Spanish: Alcaudón dorsirrojo, Russian: Обыкновенный жулан, Japanese: セアカモズ
  • Other names: Common Shrike, Brown-backed shrike
  • Distribution: Europe, western Asia, south and east Africa
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects, small vertebrates
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio) is estimated to number about 24,000,000 to 48,000,000 mature individual birds. The overall population trend of the species is considered to be decreasing.

In most of its range, this species is reported to be scarce to common. The generation length is 4 years. Its distribution size is about 18,900,000

Habitat alteration and destruction, agricultural expansion, reduction in prey population and capture of adults and juveniles for pet-trade are the main threats that are endangering the survival of these species.

IUCN and CITES status

The red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable, either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the shrike species and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Lanius collurio
Species:L. collurio
Binomial name:Lanius collurio
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio) is closely related to the brown shrike (Lanius cristatus), red-tailed shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides) and Daurian shrike (Lanius isabellinus).
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1.Photo source: (cropped)
Photo author: Antonios Tsaknakis | License: CC BY-SA 4.0 as on 4/18/18
2.Photo source: (cropped)
Photo author: Soner Bekir | License: CC BY-SA 4.0 as on 4/18/18
3.Photo source: (cropped)
Photo author: Derek Keats | License: CC BY 2.0 as on 4/18/18
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