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Tiger Shrike

The Tiger Shrike or Thick-billed Shrike (Lanius tigrinus) is a small passerine bird which is found in wooded habitats across eastern Asia. Its habitat is woodland, forest edges and farmland with scattered trees in lowland areas. It is found in eastern China, Korea, Japan (northern and central Honshū) and the Russian Far East. It winters mainly in Malaysia and Indonesia. It has a wide distribution and is not considered threatened although it has declined recently in Japan.

This small strike is 6.7 to 7.5 inches in length and weighs approximately 1.2 ounces. The thick bill is bluish-black with a black tip. The legs are gray-black. The adult male’s back, rump and shoulders are reddish-brown with blackish bars creating a tiger-like pattern. It has a black mask and gray crown and nape. The wings and tail are dull brown and the underparts are white. Females are duller in color than the males and have a white stripe above the eye and black barring on the flanks. Immature birds have dark scale-like markings and lack the gray and black on the head.

Breeding occurs from May to July. Pairs form during northward migration to breeding grounds, or soon thereafter. Courting males perch by the female, bowing the body up and down and moving the head from side to side while uttering a soft song. The nest is built in a deciduous tree 5 to 16 feet above the ground. Three to six eggs are laid and incubated by the female for 14-16 days. The young fledge in about two weeks.

It feeds mainly on insects, particularly grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, bugs, butterflies and moths. Other small animals including birds and lizards are also taken. It typically hunts from a perch at the forest edge, perching less conspicuously than many other shrikes. It also forages among branches and leaves to find prey.

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Tiger Shrike


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