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Southern Grey Shrike

The Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis) is a member of the shrike family. The plumage is generally similar to Great Grey Shrike apart from the differences noted below. It is closely related to the Great Grey Shrike, Lanius excubitor, with which it used to be considered conspecific; where they co-occur, they do not interbreed and are separated by choice of habitat.[1]

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

The race L. m. meridionalis is resident in southern Europe and north Africa. It is slightly smaller and darker than the 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 is sometimes split as a separate species, the Steppe Grey Shrike, L. pallidirostis. It too prefers more arid habitat with sparse vegetation.

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

This medium-sized passerine bird eats large insects, small birds and rodents. Like other shrikes it hunts from prominent perches, and impales corpses on thorns or barbed wire as a "larder".

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sangster, George; Knox, Alan G.; Helbig, Andreas J. & Parkin, David T. (2002): Taxonomic recommendations for European birds. Ibis 144(1): 153–159. doi:10.1046/j.0019-1019.2001.00026.x PDF fulltext

Bibliography[edit]

Identification[edit]

  • Jorma Tenovuo & Juha Varrela (1998) Identification of the Great Grey Shrike complex in Europe Alula 4(1): 4 - 11
  • Clement, Peter, and Tim Worfolk (1995) Southern and eastern Great Grey Shrikes in northwest Europe Birding World 8(8) 300-309
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