Birds of the World

Laniidae : Shrikes

Red-backed Shrike

Lanius collurio

male - Barns Ness, Lothian, Scotland - May 2004

Red-backed Shrikes were formally a relatively common breeding bird in southern Britain but became extirpated in the late 1980's. Now they only occur as scarce migrants in the spring and autumn.

male - Barns Ness, Lothian, Scotland - May 2004

male bathing - Bratsigovo, Bulgaria - June 2007

In contrast, Red-backed Shrikes are "as common as Sparrows" in Bulgaria. Ironically, despite being usually very approachable birds, I found them very difficult to photograph there. Emil and I had a running joke that whenever we spotted a shrike sitting in good light on an exposed perch that it was certain to fly before I could get a photo of it. And sure enough, they invariably did!

male - Bratsigovo, Bulgaria - June 2007

male - Tazha, Bulgaria - June 2007

female - Konshengal, Kazakhstan - May 2001

They are at the eastern limit of their range in southern Kazakhstan, where they are only seen as migrants as they travel between their African wintering grounds to their breeding grounds in central Russia and northern Kazakhstan.