Woodchat Shrike

The Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator) is a member of the shrike family Laniidae. It breeds in southern Europe, the Middle East and northwest Africa, and winters in tropical Africa, preferring open cultivated country with orchard trees interspersed with bare or sandy ground.

This medium-sized shrike eats large insects, small birds, voles and lizards, and, like other shrikes, it hunts from prominent perches, and impales corpses on thorns or barbed wire as a “larder”.

The male is a remarkable bird with black and white plumage and a chestnut crown. The race L. s. badius of the western Mediterranean lacks the large white wing patches.

Females and juveniles have vermiculated brown upperparts, as well as vermiculated buff underparts.

This species often overshoots its breeding range on spring migration, and is a rare visitor to Great Britain.