The woodchat shrike (Lanius senator) is a member of the shrike family Laniidae. 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 senator is Latin for "senator", so-named because its chestnut cap recalled the colour of the stripe on the toga of a Roman senator. The common name "Woodchat" is an Anglicisation of German waldkatze, literally "woodcat", and "shrike" is from Old English scríc, "shriek", referring to the shrill call.
The woodchat breeds in southern Europe, the Middle East and northwest Africa, and winters in tropical Africa. It breeds in open cultivated country, preferably with orchard trees and some bare or sandy ground.
The male is a striking bird with black and white plumage and a chestnut crown. The race L. s. badius of the western Mediterranean lacks the large white wing patches.
In the female and young birds the upperparts are brown and vermiculated. Underparts are buff and also vermiculated.
Behaviour and ecology
This species often overshoots its breeding range on spring migration, and is a rare, but annual, visitor to Great Britain. The Balearic race badius has occurred in Britain around four times as a vagrant, and has also been recorded once in Ireland.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Lanius senator". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Tony Harris & Kim Franklin (2000). Shrikes and Bush-Shrikes. Helm. ISBN 0-7136-3861-3.
- Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 219, 353. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
- "Woodchat". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- "Shrike". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Media related to Lanius senator at Wikimedia Commons
- Data related to Lanius senator at Wikispecies
- Lanius senator in the Flickr: Field Guide Birds of the World
- Lanius senator on Avibase
- Woodchat shrike videos, photos & sounds on the Internet Bird Collection
- Oiseaux, pictures (French)
- Ageing and sexing (PDF; 2.4 MB) by Javier Blasco-Zumeta & Gerd-Michael Heinze