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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

When hunting, shrikes sit in prominent positions such as on fence posts in order to spot potential prey. They take a range of prey and use a variety of hunting methods. They swiftly drop onto beetles and other invertebrates dwelling on the ground, but can also chase after flying insects and catch them on the wing. Small birds, mammals, lizards and frogs are also taken, and are killed with a sharp peck to the back of the head. Prey items are often impaled on thorns in order to build up a food supply for periods of bad weather. These 'larders' have earned the species the name 'butcher bird', and according to superstition the red-backed shrike only feeds when it has killed nine creatures. The name 'nine killer' comes from the German 'neunmoder' (5). The cup-like nest is built from plant stems, roots and grass, is lined with moss and hair and is located low down in dense thorny bushes. Eggs are laid between the end of May and late July; only one clutch consisting of 3-6 eggs is produced each year (2).
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Description

Measuring 17 cm in length, the red-backed shrike is slightly larger than a house sparrow. Males are easily recognisable by their striking appearance. They have a bluish-grey head, black eye mask, chestnut coloured back, black tail framed with white, salmon pink underparts and a hooked black bill. Females and juveniles do not have the black eye mask of the male and are dull brown; juveniles also have bars on their back. The voice includes a harsh 'chack chack' alarm call, and males produce a sustained warble in which the songs of other bird species are copied (2).
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Distribution

Range

Widespread Palearctic region; > to South Africa.
  • Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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Range

The red-backed shrike breeds throughout most of Europe except for most of the northern areas, central and southern Iberia and many Mediterranean islands (3). It migrates via south-east Europe to tropical and southern Africa and north-west India for the winter (2). Formerly widespread throughout much of England and Wales, the species has undergone a drastic decline since the mid 19th century. By 1980 the species was found only in heathland in East Anglia, and in 1989 there were no confirmed records of breeding (4). Nesting in the UK has since been sporadic, with hopes of a natural recolonisation from Scandinavia after a number of pairs bred in Scotland between 1977-79 (4).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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In the UK, red-backed shrikes once bred in a wide range of habitats, including commons, waste land, scrubby habitat and heathland (4). More recently however, the species has only been found on lowland heaths (4).
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Associations

Animal / predator
Lanius collurio is predator of adult of Bombus
Other: major host/prey

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 7.8 years (wild)
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Lanius collurio

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 13 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

ACCGCCCTA---AGCCTCCTAATTCGAGCAGAACTGGGACAACCCGGTGCTCTTCTAGGGGAC---GACCAAATTTACAACGTAATTGTTACAGCTCATGCCTTTGTAATAATCTTCTTCATAGTTATGCCTATCATAATCGGAGGGTTCGGAAACTGATTAGTCCCACTAATA---ATCGGTGCCCCGGACATAGCATTCCCACGAATGAATAACATGAGTTTCTGACTCCTACCTCCATCATTCCTCCTTCTACTAGCCTCTTCAACAGTAGAAGCAGGAGTAGGAACAGGATGAACTGTATACCCACCACTAGCTGGTAACTTAGCCCACGCTGGAGCTTCAGTCGACCTA---GCCATCTTCTCACTACACCTAGCAGGTATCTCATCAATTCTAGGAGCAATTAATTTTATCACTACAGCAATTAACATAAAACCTCCTGCCCTATCACAATACCAAACCCCACTATTCGTATGATCAGTCCTAATTACCGCAGTGCTACTTCTTCTTTCCCTACCAGTACTCGCTGCT---GGAATCACTATACTCCTAACAGACCGGAACCTCAACACTACATTCTTTGACCCAGCAGGAGGGGGAGACCCAGTGCTATATCAACATCTGTTCTGATTCTTTGGCCATCCAGAAGTATACATCTTAATCCTGCCAGGATTCGGCATTATCTCCCATGTCGTAGCATATTATGCCGGCAAAAAA---GAGCCATTCGGCTATATAGGAATAGTATGAGCAATACTATCAATCGGATTCCTCGGGTTCATCGTCTGAGCTCACCACATGTTTACAGTAGGAATGGACGTTGATACACGAGCCTACTTTACATCCGCTACTATAATTATCGCTATTCCAACTGGAATTAAAGTATTTAGCTGACTA---GCAACACTGCACGGAGGC---ACAATCAAATGAGACCCACCAATACTATGAGCCCTCGGATTTATCTTCCTATTTACTATTGGAGGGCTAACAGGAATTGTCCTAGCTAACTCTTCTTTAGACATCGCCCTACACGACACATATTATGTAGTAGCCCATTTCCACTACGTT---CTATCCATAGGAGCAGTCTTTGCAATCCTAGCAGGATTCACTCACTGATTCCCGCTCTTCACCGGATACACCCTGCACTCTACATGAGCCAAAATTCACTTCGGAGTCATGTTTGTAGGAGTAAAC
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Lanius collurio

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 13
Specimens with Barcodes: 18
Species With Barcodes: 1
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Status in Egypt

Regular passage visitor and winter visitor?

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Source: Bibliotheca Alexandrina - EOL Ar

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Status

Listed on the Birds of Conservation Concern Red List, Annex 1 of the EC Birds Directive and Appendix II of the Bern Convention. Protected in the UK under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (3).
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Population

Population
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 6,300,000-13,000,000 breeding pairs, equating to 18,900,000-39,000,000 individuals (BirdLife International 2004). Europe forms 25-49% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 38,600,000-156,000,000 individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

The main reasons for the decline of the red-shrike in the UK are not yet fully understood, but may include habitat loss. In areas where extensive scrub clearance has occurred, the rate of decline has been shown to be double that which occurred in other areas. Agricultural intensification including pesticide use may have contributed to the decline of this species by reducing prey availability. Although the species is relatively tolerant of human disturbance at the nest site, if larders are disturbed they tend to be abandoned. Sadly, egg collecting has also taken its toll on the species. In addition to the above factors, demographic effects have also come into play; as the breeding densities were so low, individuals struggled to find mates (3).
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Management

Conservation

As the reasons for the decline of the red-backed shrike are so poorly understood and details of the species' habitat requirements are not yet known, at the moment there are no clear guidelines on how to conserve this bird. Research is currently being conducted in Austria on the ecology of the species in order to guide habitat management in the UK. Practical measures to protect the species have included the wardening of breeding sites by the RSPB and Forestry Commission in order to minimise disturbance by birdwatchers (4). The red-backed shrike is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority, and is part of English Nature's Species Recovery programme; the Species Action Plan aims to ensure that any breeding pairs are successful, thereby maximising the chances for recolonisation (4). Despite these measures, however, there is still a very imminent danger that the red-backed shrike will become extinct as a breeding bird in the UK (3).
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Wikipedia

Red-backed shrike

The red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio) is a carnivorous passerine bird and member of the shrike family Laniidae.

Description[edit]

This 16–18 cm (approx. 6.3–7.1 inches) long migratory bird eats large insects, small birds, frogs, rodents and lizards. Like other shrikes it hunts from prominent perches, and impales corpses on thorns or barbed wire as a "larder." This practice has earned it the nickname of "butcher bird."

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.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

This bird breeds in most of Europe and western Asia and winters in tropical Africa. The bird is listed as a "least concern" (LC) species on a global scale, but some parts of its range have seen a steep decline in numbers, so locally its status can be less secure.

Great Britain[edit]

Once a common migratory visitor to Great Britain, numbers declined sharply during the 20th century. The bird's last stronghold was in Breckland but by 1988 just a single pair remained, successfully raising young at Santon Downham. The following year for the first time no nests were recorded in the UK. But since then sporadic breeding has taken place, mostly in Scotland and Wales. In September 2010 the RSPB announced that a pair had raised chicks at a secret location on Dartmoor where the bird last bred in 1970.[2] In 2011, two pairs nested in the same locality, fledging seven young.[3] In 2012 there was another breeding attempt, this time unsuccessful, probably due to a prolonged spell of wet weather.[4] In 2013 breeding was again confirmed in Devon, with two young fledged at a new site.[5] This return to south western England has been an unexpected development and has raised speculation that a warming climate could assist the bird in re-colonising some of its former haunts, if only in small numbers.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Lanius collurio". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ ""Butcher bird" nests in England after 18 year absence". RSPB.  Retrieved on 10 September 2010
  3. ^ "Red-backed Shrike breeds on Dartmoor". Birdwatch magazine.  Retrieved 30 December 2011
  4. ^ "Red-backed Shrike". The Devon Birdwatching and Preservation Society.  Retrieved 15 August 2013
  5. ^ "England's only nesting "butcher birds" successful on Dartmoor". RSPB.  Retrieved on 10 March 2014
  6. ^ "Mark Avery's blog: Shrikes.". RSPB.  Retrieved on 30 December 2011

Further reading[edit]

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