Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Southern steppe Grey Shrike - Lanius meridionalis pallidirostris (Cassin1852) Νότιος Διπλοκεφαλάς - Cyprus

A visitor from Central Asia and only the 11th Cyprus record. Akrotiri 15/11/2016

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, which it was previously considered conspecific; where they co-occur, they do not interbreed and are separated by choice of habitat

The genus name, Lanius, is derived from the Latin word for "butcher", and some shrikes are also known as "butcher birds" because of their feeding habits. The specific meridionalis is Latin for "southern". The common English name "shrike" is from Old English scríc, "shriek", referring to the shrill call.

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.

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.
From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_grey_shrike

Photos and video Akrotiri 15/11/2016 by George Konstantinou

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