Red-Backed Shrike

Red-Backed Shrike

Scientific name: Lanius collurio

Did you know: The Red-Backed Shrike is also known as the “butcher bird” due to its unique habit of impaling its prey on thorns or wedges in branches!

What Do Red-Backed Shrikes Look Like? (how to identify them)

Red-Backed Shrikes, slightly larger and slimmer than House Sparrows, present a striking appearance. The males are particularly distinctive with their bluish-grey heads, prominent black masks, bright chestnut backs, and thick black bills.

Differences Between Male And Female Red-Backed Shrikes

Males are more vivid with grey heads and chestnut backs, while females have more subdued brownish-grey colouring with less pronounced markings. The young birds are duller, resembling the females but with a more mottled appearance.

What Do Red-Backed Shrikes Eat?

These birds are carnivorous and display an eclectic diet consisting mainly of insects, small birds, and mammals. Their unique hunting style involves impaling their prey on thorns or barbed wire, creating a ‘larder’ for later consumption.

Where Do Red-Backed Shrikes Live? (inc. migration info)

Red-Backed Shrikes breed across Europe and western Asia, migrating to tropical Africa for the winter. Their preferred habitats are open landscapes with scattered bushes and trees, such as heathland and farmland with hedges.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Red-Backed Shrikes)

The vocal range of these birds is quite broad, with a distinctive ‘tschack’ call marking their territory. Their song includes mimicked elements from other birds, creating a diverse and fascinating auditory experience.

Fun Red-Backed Shrike Facts (kid friendly)

  • Red-Backed Shrikes are skilled mimics, incorporating other birds’ songs into their own.
  • They use thorns or barbed wire to store their prey, earning the nickname “butcher bird.”
  • These birds are about 17-19 cm long, similar in size to a sparrow but slimmer.
  • Their diet includes insects, small birds, and mammals.
  • Red-Backed Shrikes have a dramatic way of catching their prey, by swooping down from perches when hunting.
  • They can be seen during the migration period along the UK’s eastern and southern coasts.
  • Once common in Great Britain, they are now a rare sight, making each sighting special.
  • These birds are known for their unique ‘larders,’ where they impale and store their prey.
  • Red-Backed Shrikes are a vibrant part of the ecosystem, controlling insect populations.

Facts About The Red-Backed Shrike

Diet: Insects, and small birds and mammals
Bird Family: Shrikes
Length: 17cm
Wingspan: 24-27cm
Weight: 25-35g
Scientific Name: Lanius collurio

The Red-Backed Shrike Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • May
  • June
  • August
  • September
  • October

Red-Backed Shrike Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile