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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Red-backed Shrike

Afrikaans name: Rooiruglaksman

A Red-backed Shrike preening in iMfolozi Game Reserve

Photo © Steven Herbert

Lanius collurio

The Red-backed Shrike is a migrant to South Africa in our summer. It spends our winter in Europe and Asia where it breeds.

The bird is about 17 cm in length and is normally seen perched on a low branch from where it keeps an eye out for insects which form the main part of its diet. It will also take larger prey items such as small birds, frogs and lizards.

An interesting habit of this, and similar, Shrikes is to store food items on thorns. Their plan is come back at a later stage and eat them. This characteristic has earned these birds a nickname of butcher-birds.

Male Red-backed Shrikes are far more colourful than females. The females are plainer and look like they have 'juvenile' colouration.


References and further reading

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 46

Birds of the Natal Drakensberg Park - Author: Robin Little and William Bainbridge - Year Published: 1992 - Page: 99

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 73

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 188

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 642

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 641

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 390

Shrikes of Southern Africa - Author: Tony Harris and Graeme Arnott - Year Published: - Page: 48

List of South African Birds

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