Facts about great grey shrike

14 great grey shrike facts

Lanius excubitor

These small birds, compared in size to a sparrow or a blackbird, enjoy the infamous reputation of being the most brutal birds in the world. They are nicknamed Hannibal Lecter thanks to their eating habits. Their menu includes insects, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles, sometimes birds, all of which are often impaled on various spiky objects to be consumed at a preferred time. Their feeding grounds may look gruesome.

Great grey shrike
It is a predatory songbird from the family Laniidae.
It can be sighted in most European countries, northwestern and northeastern parts of Africa, and eastern Asia.
It is the largest of shrikes encountered in Europe.
On average, the great grey shrike measures up to 26 centimeters with an 11-centimeter long tail, and weighs approximately 70 grams.
Great grey shrikes are light-gray, with black stripes under the eye, on the wings and the tail, and a white underbelly.
Their beaks are short, black, and hooked like a bird of prey.
Their sexual dimorphism is not visible through coloration.
Both males and females look the same.
Great grey shrikes are carnivores.
They primarily feed on rodents, like lemmings, but also hunt for newts, salamanders, bats, fish, frogs, and toads. They also prey on insects, such as grasshoppers, beetles, bumblebees or crickets.

They are also known for eating other birds.
Great grey shrikes are known for impaling their prey.
Often the prey is still alive while being impaled on wires, spikes, or thorns. Shrikes do it both to keep their meal still for consumption or leave it to consume later. Sometimes, when their prey contains toxins, like certain species of grasshoppers, shrikes come back to their impaled prey after several days once the toxin degrades, so it can be safely consumed.
It awaits its prey on the tree top but is also known for hovering.
It expresses serial monogamy.
Pairs bond for a specific mating season. Typically, the next-year mate is different from the one from a year before.
Great grey shrike female lays up to nine eggs per clutch, an average of seven.
The young hatch after 16 to 21 days of incubation.
Offspring are cared for by parents and other group members called helpers.
It has been listed under the least concerned by the UICN Red List.
Hungry for more facts?

Related content