Wild Birds

Bay-backed Shrikes

Bay-backed Shrikes

The Bay-backed Shrikes, Lanius vittatus, is a member of the bird family Laniidae, the shrikes.

Bay-backed Shrikes on a Branch
Bay-backed Shrikes on a Branch

Distribution / Range

It is a widespread resident breeder in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, and has recently been recorded from Sri Lanka. It nests in bushes in scrubby areas and cultivation, laying 3-5 eggs.


It is a smallish shrike at 17cm, maroon-brown above with a pale rump and long black tail with white edges. The underparts are white but with buff flanks. The crown and nape (back of the neck) are grey, with a typical shrike black bandit mask through the eye. There is a small white wing patch, and the bill and legs are dark grey.

Males and females look alike, but young birds are washed-out versions of the adults.

The Bay-backed Shrike Sitting On The Tree
The Bay-backed Shrike Sitting On The Tree

Diet / Feeding

Bay-backed Shrike has a characteristic upright “shrike” attitude perched on a bush, from which it sallies after lizards, large insects, small birds, and rodents.

Prey may be impaled upon a sharp point, such as a thorn. Thus secured they can be ripped with the strong hooked bill, but their feet are not suited for tearing.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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