Wild Birds

Southern Grey Shrikes

The Southern Grey Shrikes (Lanius meridionalis) is a member of the Shrike family.

It is closely related to the Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor) with which it used to be considered conspecific (of, or belonging to, the same species); where they co-occur, they do not interbreed and are separated by choice of habitat (Sangster et al., 2002).

Distribution / Description

The race L. m. meridionalis is resident in southern Europe and North Africa. It is slightly smaller and darker than Great Grey Shrike and prefers dry open country.

The race L. m. pallidirostis breeds in central Asia and winters in the tropics. It is much paler than Southern Grey or Great Grey and maybe a separate species known as the Steppe Grey Shrike. It too prefers more arid habitat with sparse vegetation.

The migratory eastern form is a scarce vagrant to western Europe, including Great Britain, usually in autumn.

The plumage is generally similar to the Great Grey Shrike apart from the differences noted above.

Diet / Feeding

Southern Grey Shrikes medium-sized perching bird that eats large insects, small birds, rodents and lizards. Like other shrikes, it hunts from prominent perches, and impales corpses on thorns or barbed wire as a “larder”.


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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