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Red-backed Shrike

Afrikaans name: Rooiruglaksman

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Red-backed Shrike

Photo © Steven Herbert

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A Red-backed Shrike preening in iMfolozi Game Reserve

Photo © Steven Herbert

Lanius collurio

The Red-backed Shrike is a migrant to South Africa in our summer. It spends our winter in Europe and Asia where it breeds.

The bird is about 17 cm in length and is normally seen perched on a low branch from where it keeps an eye out for insects which form the main part of its diet. It will also take larger prey items such as small birds, frogs and lizards.

An interesting habit of this, and similar, Shrikes is to store food items on thorns. Their plan is come back at a later stage and eat them. This characteristic has earned these birds a nickname of butcher-birds.

Male Red-backed Shrikes are far more colourful than females. The females are plainer and look like they have 'juvenile' colouration.

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