Thursday, 15 March 2012

Brown shrike

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The Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) is a  small bird belonging to the Shrike family. It has a reddish brown upper plumage, especially prominent on the crown and nape.

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There is a very prominent broad blackish line through the eye, often called as the “Bandit Mask”. The wings are a darker brown colour while the lower plumage dirty whitish, whiter on the throat and belly and  the breast and flanks are usually barred finely with black.

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The legs are a bluish black and the bill is a horny-brown colour. It has a very harsh chattering voice:

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It is commonly found in different types of vegetation including cultivation and dry scrub or mixed bamboo jungle to the fringes of forests. It usually perches on small trees, bushes or wires, from where it looks out for prey. When it spots the prey it launces itself to capture the prey from either the ground or mid air and returns with it to the perch.

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The bird is a migratory species and they arrive in winter to India in August to September and depart in April. This makes it one of the earliest visitors to arrive and latest to leave. A few non-breeding birds also seem to linger in the plains
throughout the hot weather.

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They breed between May-June and the nest is a massive cup of grass built in trees or thorny bushes. A closely related species is the Isabelline Shrike (L. isabellinus).

  Sighting Information:
Location: Sarjapur
Date: 26th Feb 2012
Time: Morning; 8:30 AM
Weather: Sunny morning
Other Details: A single bird seen sitting atop a thorny bush looking for prey.

PS: A brown shrike was featured here earlier, spotted in Karimannoor, Kerala.