Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)


The Woodchat Shrike is of average size for a Shrike, measuring around 16 to 18 cm long. Like all shrikes, it has patterned black and white plumage on the wings, with pure white underparts and a bold black stripe across the face. This bird can be told apart from other Shrikes by the chestnut coloured “cap” on the top of the head. Females look similar to males, although the chestnut “cap” is less deeply coloured, and the stripe across the face is less bold.


The Woodchat Shrike enjoys open country with occasional bushes and trees, to complement its feeding style, discussed below.Woodchat Shrikes’ often breed over their typical range on spring migration, and is a rare but annual visitor to Great Britain. 


This bird eats large insects, as well as small lizards and birds. It swoops down from prominent perches to catch its prey, and rather morbidly impales caught prey items on thorns, etc. to build up as a larder. This gives it the nickname of “The Butcher Bird.”

Protection Status

This species is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

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