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Common Fiscal (Shrike)

Afrikaans name: Fiskaallaksman

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Common Fiscal in a typical pose

Photo © Steven Herbert

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Common Fiscal hunting for food

Photo © Steven Herbert

Lanius collaris

The Common Fiscal is also known as the Fiscal Shrike. It can be found in virtually all areas of South Africa.

These shrikes are commonly seen sitting on exposed perches such as telephone wires, signs and the edge or tops of bushes. From these vantage points they scour the surrounding area for food.

The Common Fiscal will eat virtually any prey small enough to swallow. They will take insects, reptiles, frogs and even small birds or mammals. They have earned the name of "Butcher Bird" with their habit of impaling some of their food onto thorns or other spikes such as those on a barbed wire fence.

Females normally make the nest, choosing sites in a thorn tree or other protected spot. Males defend the surrounding territory aggressively against othe Common Fiscals. Normally either 3 or 4 eggs are laid. The female takes most responsibility in tending to the eggs and chicks but the male may assist with feeding them.

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