Wild Birds

Long-tailed Shrikes

Long-tailed Shrikes (Lanius schach)

The Long-tailed Shrikes, Lanius schach, are a member of the bird family Laniidae, the shrikes.

Long-tailed Shrikes Resting in a Tree Branch
Long-tailed Shrikes Resting in a Tree Branch

Distribution / Range

It is a common resident breeder throughout the Indomalayan ecozone from Kazakhstan and Afghanistan through India to New Guinea, found on bushes in scrubby areas and cultivation.

This species is a very rare vagrant to western Europe on the strength of a single accepted British record on South Uist in November 2000. It has also occurred as a vagrant to Japan, Oman, Israel, Hungary and Turkey.


It has some resemblances to the grey shrikes, such as the Southern Grey Shrike, Lanius meridionalis, sharing the pearl grey head and mantle and black mask extending from the forehead, through the eye, to the ear coverts (feathers covering the ears).

It is small for a grey shrike, but has a very long tail with rufous edges. The underparts are white, but with rufous flanks. The bill and legs are nearly black.

There are several races of this species, including the Himalayan L. s. tricolor, which has a black head.

Its flight is undulating, but its dash is straight and determined.

Long-tailed Shrikes on a Thorn
Long-tailed Shrikes on a Thorn

Diet / Feeding

This bird 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 its 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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