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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 20:10 EDT

Northern White-crowned Shrike

The Northern White-crowned Shrike (Eurocephalus rueppelli), also known as the White-rumped Shrike, is a bird found in dry thornbush, semi-desert, and open acacia woodland in east Africa from southeastern Sudan and southern Ethiopia to Tanzania. Its binomial name commemorates the German naturalist and explorer Eduard Rüppell.

The Northern White-crowned Shrike is 7.5 to 9 inches long. The adult has a white crown and rump, black eye-stripe, brown back and wings and black tail. The throat, breast and belly are white, and the flanks are brown. The sexes are similar, but the juvenile has a brown crown, white head sides, and gray breast. The flight is parrot-like. The calls are high-pitched squawks, squeaks and chatters, including kek-kek and chee-chee.

The Northern White-crowned Shrike is gregarious, occurring in groups of up 12 birds. It hunts from an exposed perch, feeding mainly on large insects, usually taken from the ground. It also will feed from the backs of large mammals, and occasionally will eat fruit which has fallen to the ground.

The neat thick-walled cup nest is constructed from grass and spider webs in a horizontal tree fork 13 to 20 feet above the ground. The two to four white or lilac eggs are blotched with gray, purple or brown. It is likely that cooperative breeding occurs, given the gregarious habits of this species and the known cooperative breeding of the closely related Southern White-crowned Shrike.

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Northern White-crowned Shrike