Southern grey shrike

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Southern grey shrike
Southern grey shrike (Lanius meridionalis lahtora).jpg
L. m. lahtora
Rajasthan, India
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Laniidae
Genus: Lanius
Species: L. meridionalis
Binomial name
Lanius meridionalis
(Temminck, 1820)
Lanius meridionalis distr..png

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.[1]

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

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".[2] The common English name "shrike" is from Old English scríc, "shriek", referring to the shrill call.[3]

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 races L. m. lahtora and L. m. pallidirostis breed in central Asia and winter in the tropics. L. m. pallidirostis 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.

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

Eggs of Lanius meridionalis - MHNT

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.


  1. ^ Sangster, George; Knox, Alan G.; Helbig, Andreas J. & Parkin, David T. (2002): Taxonomic recommendations for European birds. Ibis 144(1): 153–159. doi:10.1046/j.0019-1019.2001.00026.x PDF fulltext
  2. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 219, 251. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4. 
  3. ^ "Shrike". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)



  • Jorma Tenovuo & Juha Varrela (1998) Identification of the Great Grey Shrike complex in Europe Alula 4(1): 4 - 11
  • Clement, Peter, and Tim Worfolk (1995) Southern and eastern Great Grey Shrikes in northwest Europe Birding World 8(8) 300-309

External links[edit]