The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Common Fiscal (Shrike)

Afrikaans name: Fiskaallaksman

Common Fiscal hunting for food

Photo © Steven Herbert

Lanius collaris

The Common Fiscal is also known as the Fiscal Shrike. It can be found in virtually all areas of South Africa.

These shrikes are commonly seen sitting on exposed perches such as telephone wires, signs and the edge or tops of bushes. From these vantage points they scour the surrounding area for food.

The Common Fiscal will eat virtually any prey small enough to swallow. They will take insects, reptiles, frogs and even small birds or mammals. They have earned the name of "Butcher Bird" with their habit of impaling some of their food onto thorns or other spikes such as those on a barbed wire fence.

Females normally make the nest, choosing sites in a thorn tree or other protected spot. Males defend the surrounding territory aggressively against othe Common Fiscals. Normally either 3 or 4 eggs are laid. The female takes most responsibility in tending to the eggs and chicks but the male may assist with feeding them.

References and further reading

The Birds of South Africa - Author: Hazel Stokes - Published: 1979 - Page: 40

The Birds of South Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Published: 1949 - Page: 297

The Sandton Field Guide - Author: Sandton Nature Conservation Society - Published: 1982 - Page: 61

Wildlife of the Cape Peninsula - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 2001 - Page: 65

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 168

Wild About Johannesburg - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 1995 - Page: 57

Wild Issue 47 - Author: - Published: 2019 - Page: 72

Southern African Wildlife - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1989 - Page: 188

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1993 - Page: 639

Newmans Garden Birds - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 1991 - Page: 86

Questions and Answers - Birds of Southern Africa - Author: Deirdre Richards - Published: 1990 - Page: 15

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Published: 1989 - Page: 78

Shrikes of Southern Africa - Author: Tony Harris and Graeme Arnott - Published: 0 - Page: 36

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

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 1993 - Page: 358

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1985 - Page: 641

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1981 - Page: 500

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1975 - Page: 490

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 2nd edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1957 - Page: 380

Know your Garden Birds - Author: - Published: 0 - Page: 35

Meeting with Birds - Author: Tom Spence - Published: 1986 - Page: 94

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 1984 - Page: 372

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 2000 - Page: 372

Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind - Author: B. Hilton-Barber & Prof. L. R. Berger - Published: 2004 - Page: 187

Garden Birds in South Africa - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 2017 - Page: 117

Garden Birds of Southern Africa - Author: P. Ginn & G. McIlleron - Published: 1981 - Page: 26

Geoff Lockwoods Garden Birds of Southern Africa - Author: Geoff Lockwood - Published: 0 - Page: 76

Ian Sinclairs Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair - Published: 1988 - Page: 278

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Published: 1991 - Page: 186

Bird Atlas of Natal - Author: Digby Cyrus and Nigel Robson - Published: 1980 - Page: 247

Birds of Southern Africa - Kruger National Park - Author: Kenneth Newman - Published: 1985 - Page: 190

Birds of the Natal Drakensberg Park - Author: Robin Little and William Bainbridge - Published: 1992 - Page: 98

Birds of the South Western Cape - Author: Joy Frandsen - Published: 0 - Page: 197

Birds of the Transkei - Author: C.D. Quickelberge - Published: 1989 - Page: 107

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Published: 1987 - Page: 230

Everyones Guide to South African Birds - Author: John Sinclair and John Mendelsohn - Published: 1987 - Page: 23

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

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

A First Guide to South African Birds - 6th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1959 - Page: 46

A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: O.P.M. Prozesky - Published: 1983 - Page: 265

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