Bird Families

Common shrift


Latin name:Lanius collurio
Additionally:European species description

Appearance and behavior... A small bird slightly larger than a sparrow (body length about 17 cm, wingspan 24–27 cm, weight 25–35 g) with a relatively large, slightly hooked beak. The physique is dense. Usually sits on a bush, tree top, wires or other perch. The flight is wavy, sometimes straight.

Description... The male is colored brighter and more contrasting than the female: the top of the head and neck is gray, the back is chestnut, a black stripe passes from the beak through the eye, the tail is black with white spots on the sides. The plumage of the female is duller above, grayish-brown, dirty-white below, with a light scaly dark pattern, the "face mask" and the tail are brown. Some females can be colored in the same way as males. There are no seasonal variations in plumage coloration. Young birds are similar to females, but the scaly pattern is more pronounced - it is present both on the back and on the head. Chicks hatch naked. It differs from the gray and black-faced shrike in smaller size and chestnut back, from the red-headed shrike - gray head and the absence of white spots on the shoulders.

Vote... It usually emits a sharp and abrupt “check-check" or "zhek-zhek". A rarely performed song is a sequence of relatively quiet sounds, a kind of melodic chirping that includes imitations of the voices of other birds.

Distribution, status... Inhabits almost all of Europe and western Asia. In European Russia, the northern border of the range passes through the republics of Karelia and Komi, the north of the Arkhangelsk region, reaching the Arctic Circle. Appears at breeding sites relatively late (in May). Population density varies greatly from area to area.

Lifestyle... Inhabits various habitats with thickets of trees and shrubs, interspersed with open areas (glades, meadows, fields, swamps, etc.). The male, caring for the female, brings her food. A nest of grass stalks, thin twigs, plant fibers, feathers and other materials usually suits inside a bush, less often in the crown of a tree, not high above the ground. Both partners are involved in the construction of the nest. The clutch usually contains 5–6 light eggs of different shades, covered with spots, the color, shape and density of which varies in different clutches. The female incubates the clutch, the male feeds it at this time. Both parents take part in feeding the chicks. Usually, offspring are hatched once a year.

The main food is invertebrates, mainly beetles, hymenoptera, orthopterans, dipterans and butterflies. Despite its small size, it often attacks small birds, rodents, lizards. It hunts on the fly or from the perch. Characterized by the ability to butcher prey, holding it with a paw or fixing it on a branch - by holding it between shoots or pricking it on a thorn. It can store prey for future use in specially selected places - the so-called storerooms.

Flights recorded in the Orenburg region buckwheat (Lanius isabellinus) and nesting cases red-tailed shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides). At one time they were considered the southeastern subspecies of the common shrike, now they are more often interpreted as "semi-species" hybridizing with it. The top is brownish-sandy (the buckskin shrike is lighter, the red-tailed shrike has a more pronounced reddish cap and light eyebrow), the bottom has a pink-ocher bloom, the tail and uppertail are red, in flight, white crescent mirrors stand out on the wings. Females are less bright with an indistinct scaly pattern on the sides. Young birds are more monochromatic than those of the common shrike. Inhabitants of dry steppes with shrubs, as well as deserts and semi-deserts.


Common shrike, or shrike-shrike (Latin Lanius collurio) belongs to the family Shrike (Laniidae) from the order Passeriformes. Its characteristic feature is the need to create abundant food supplies around its nest.

She catches and pricks her prey on dry branches and thorns. For a rainy day, the bird is actively stocking up on small rodents and insects.

The name of her genus Lanius comes from Latin and means "butcher, butcher". The specific epithet collurio is of ancient Greek origin and was first used by Aristotle to denote birds of prey (κολλυρίων).

The size of the European population is constantly decreasing due to global warming and an increase in the area of ​​agricultural land under cultivation. However, it continues to remain quite high and is estimated at 7-14 million breeding pairs.

The species was first described in 1758 by the Swedish zoologist Karl Linnaeus.


The habitat is located in most of the northern hemisphere. In the north, it reaches the subarctic zone of the Holarctic.

Common Shrikes are widespread in Western, Central and Northern Europe and Siberia. The southern border of the range runs along the Mediterranean coast, through the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Himalayas to Mongolia.

The birds inhabit various types of landscapes. They live in forests, forest-steppe, steppes, tundra and peat bogs. A clear preference is given to areas with rare woody vegetation and an abundance of thorny bushes.

There are 3 subspecies. The nominative subspecies is distributed throughout continental Europe with the exception of the Iberian Peninsula, Crimea and the northern regions of Scandinavia. It is also found in the British Isles and Asia Minor.

The subspecies Lanius collurio juxtus previously existed in Great Britain. Today it is considered extinct.

In the mountains, Shrike-Zhulan is observed at altitudes up to 2500 m above sea level.

In the East, its range coincides with those of the Buck (Lanius isabellinus) and Red-tailed Shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides). These birds often produce hybrid offspring.


The common shrike leads a daytime secretive lifestyle. He tries not to attract undue attention to himself, so it is very difficult to notice him.

During the hunt, the bird sits motionless at its observation post, which is located on tall bushes, lonely trees, poles or power lines. She can look out for a potential victim for a long time, patiently waiting for an opportunity to hunt. Much less Shrike Shrikes walk the land in search of food.

At noon, when it gets hot, the bird leaves its observation post and hides in the shade. She can change it depending on the time of day and the position of the sun in order to increase the effectiveness of her hunt.

The flight takes place almost in a straight line with an average speed of about 33 km / h. Unlike many other shrikes, it rarely has a wavy or zigzag character.

The song of the common shrike is melodic, with a slight whistle. In it, the singer sometimes includes whole excerpts from the melodies of other birds, most often gray partridges (Perdix perdix), small toadstools (Podiceps ruficollis) and snipe (Gallinago gallinago).

Males sing long, quietly and often nasally, imitating the voices of geese. In the presence of females, their songs are clearly accelerated. The most talented of them learn excerpts from the songs of larks (Alauda arvensis) and finches (Fringilla coelebs).

Sometimes shriek-julan, instead of melodic arias, makes sharp and monotonous repetitive noises.

He actively protects his home area from any encroachments of fellow tribesmen, but during wintering and outside the breeding season, he can join temporary flocks.

Representatives of the European population winter in Africa south of the equator, with the exception of the rainforest zone in the Congo Basin and particularly arid areas. Most birds spend the winter in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.

Migration starts in August. The first to fly to the south are adults. Juveniles fly out 1-2 weeks after them and arrive in South Africa in the first half of September. Birds fly at night, stopping during the day to rest and feed. During migrations, their speed reaches 70-75 km / h.

Common Shrikes, nesting in eastern Russia and Western Siberia, migrate to the Middle East and East Africa via the Arabian Peninsula. The rest of the populations winter in India and Southeast Asia.

In an excited state, the bird lifts up its neck and plumage on its head.


The diet is dominated by various Hymenoptera and large Diptera insects. Shrike shrikes willingly eat a variety of larvae and caterpillars. Spiders, centipedes, earthworms, snails and wood lice are eaten to a lesser extent.

In the years of mass breeding of small rodents, the daily menu includes shrews, bank voles, forest and house mice. In wetlands, Shrikes hunt lizards, frogs and brittle spindles (Anguis fragilis).

Small songbirds and chicks of larger species can become their victims.

During migration, common shrikes often attack and kill birds that are exhausted by a long flight and do not have the strength to resist.

Hunting, as a rule, takes place from an observation post located at a height of 2 to 5 m above the ground. From it, the shrike-shrike looks out for prey that is nearby on the surface of the soil. Noticing her, he swiftly flies up to her and kills with a blow of his beak.

The predator is able to transport prey weighing up to 15-20 g in the air. It stores hunting trophies in a certain place, and then eats it as needed. After eating, he always thoroughly cleans his beak, rubbing it against the branches.

Food of plant origin is eaten exclusively in late summer and autumn in the form of berries. Elderberry (Sambucus), raspberry (Rubus idaeus) and mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia) are preferred. Chicks in the last stages of feeding can be fed the fruits of honeysuckle (Lonicera), sweet cherries and cherries.


Sexual maturity occurs at the age of one year, but usually common shrikes begin to breed towards the end of the second year of life. Males are the first to arrive at the nesting sites in early spring.

The birds form seasonal monogamous pairs that break up after the season ends. They form from March to April. Their home plots can cover an area of ​​up to 5 hectares.

The location of the future nest is determined by the male. Nest is located 1-2 m above ground in trees or among thorny bushes. Both partners are taking part in its construction. The male takes down building materials, and the female is engaged in the construction of the nest. It is built from small twigs and blades of grass, and from the inside is insulated with down, soft feathers and animal hair.

The nest is bowl-shaped, 80-95 mm high and 120-140 mm in diameter.

Mating takes place approximately 3 days before egg laying. The male initiates them with trembling wings and plaintive pleading cries, to which the female reacts in a similar way. Foreplay lasts about 10 seconds, and copulation itself lasts from 2 to 4 seconds.

From May to June, the female lays up to 5 eggs about 22x17 mm in size, which are carefully laid out in the form of a wreath and turned with blunt ends up. The eggs are colored pink, cream, light green or purple and are dotted with dark specks. Often the cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) throws its eggs into the nest of common shrikes.

For 14-16 days, the female incubates the clutch, and the male is engaged in obtaining food and cleaning the area around the nest. From time to time he sings his quiet, unobtrusive song.

Chicks are born naked, blind and helpless. For the first week, the female does not leave the nest and warms them with the warmth of her body. The male brings food to her and the chicks. From the second week, both spouses begin to feed the offspring. The female obtains food within a radius of up to 100 m from the nest, and the male up to 300 m.

Chicks are very voracious, therefore, they demand food with constant loud cries, not giving their parents a minute to rest.

As soon as the chicks leave the nest, they begin to knock on the branches with their beaks. This is how juveniles practice the skills of pricking prey on thorns.

After 7 days, chicks are able to deliver accurate blows, but they still do not react to thorns. Only after a few more days do they begin to train to put food on them. After 3 weeks, juveniles acquire confident skills in skewering prey and move on to independent existence.

In case of loss of clutch, the female lays eggs again, but in smaller numbers. On average, only 40% of chicks float on the wing, the rest become victims of predators or die of hunger.

The most dangerous for them are jays (Garrulus glandarius), martens (Mustelidae) and dormouse (Gliridae).


Body length of sexually mature individuals reaches 16-18 cm. Weight 27-37 g. Wingspan 28-32 cm. Sexual dimorphism is noticeable in plumage color.

In the male, the back and wings are red-red in color, the head and neck are grayish, with a blue tint. Wide dark stripes run from the beak to the ears.

The ventral side is whitish or creamy, sometimes with a reddish tint. The relatively long tail is black, the undertail is white at the base.

The upper part of the body in females is brown or gray, the reddish tint is completely absent. The abdomen is light gray, with a dark transverse border. Chicks with their plumage are similar to females.

The small dark gray beak is bent downward. It is very sturdy and has a hook at the end. The body is slender and light. The legs are covered with scales. Elongated thin fingers are equipped with sharp claws. The wings are relatively short, wide and rounded.

The life expectancy of the common shrike in natural conditions is about 5-6 years.

Buckskin Shrike / Lanius isabellinus

BULAN SOROKOPUT (Lanius isabellinus)

inhabits the southern part of Kazakhstan, Central and Central Asia, as well as Iran and Afghanistan, being a characteristic inhabitant of semi-desert and desert landscapes, although it does not avoid dense riparian thickets.

  • Zhulan (Lanius cristatus)
  • Indian julan (Lanius vittatus)
  • White shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
  • Long-tailed shrike (Lanius schach)
  • Wedge-tailed shrike (Lanius sphenocercus)
  • Masked shrike (Lanius nubicus)
  • Gray shrike (Lanius excubitor)
  • Tiger shrike (Lanius tigrinus)
  • Black-faced shrike (Lanius minor)
  • Japanese shrike (Lanius bucephalus)

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