Red-backed Shrike


Red-backed Shrike

The Red-backed Shrikes (Lanius collurio) is a member of the shrike family Laniidae.


Distribution / Range

This bird breeds in most of Europe and western Asia and winters in tropical Africa. Its range is contracting, and it is now probably extinct in Great Britain as a breeding bird, although it is frequent on migration.

It is named as a protected bird in Britain under a Biodiversity Action Plan; its decline is due to overuse of pesticides and scrub clearance due to human overpopulation.

It breeds in open cultivated country with hawthorn and dog rose.



This 16-18 cm long migratory passerine eats large insects, small birds, voles and lizards. Like other shrikes it hunts from prominent perches, and impales corpses on thorns or barbed wire as a “larder”.

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.

Red-backed Shrike Female

Red-backed Shrike Head Detail


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