Saturday, 18 January 2014

Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor)

OTHER NAMES: Northern Shrike
Latin Etymology: Lanius ("to tear to pieces") excubitor ("sentinel")
Adult Great Grey Shrike (subspecies L. e. excubitor) at Lowick, Northamptonshire - January 2014

Featured Subspecies: Lanius excubitor excubitor
Weight: 56-79g  /  Length: 23-24m  /  Wingspan: 30-35m
NO UK STATUS / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The larger of the two Shrike species consistently found in the UK, the Great Grey Shrike is theoretically more numerous than the Red-backed, but took me longer to track down.  In its favour, the Great Grey does   actually stay in the UK during the Winter, and some sites it even occurs at annually - Thursley Common most notably. However, actually tracking down this bird at those sites isn't necessarily reliable; I made two unsuccessful visits to Thursley via long convoluted trips using both trains and buses before I ended up catching this species a few miles away from my house in Northamptonshire.  It seemed a lot more mobile than the Red-backed I saw and was moving up and down a fairly long hedge, presumably searching for the prey that they (in)famously impale on thorns as a larder.

Related Species:
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Laniidae
Genus: Lanius

Featured Subspecies: L. e. excubitor, L. e. homeyeri, L. e. leucopterus, L. e. sibiricus, L. e. bianchii, L. e. mollis, L. e. funereus, L. e. invictus, L. e. borealis

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Rare Wintering species (average of 63 individuals)
 - A single bird in Lowick in the Winter of 2014.

Further Notes: BirdForum Opus, IUCN Red ListRSPBWikipedia, Xeno-canto

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