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Lanius cristatus

Lanius cristatus (*)

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Cladus: Craniata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Subsectio: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Infraclassis: Aves
Ordo: Passeriformes
Subordo: Passeri
Parvordo: Corvida
Superfamilia: Corvoidea

Familia: Laniidae
Genus: Lanius
Species: Lanius cristatus
Subspecies: L. c. confusus - L. c. cristatus - L. c. lucionensis - L. c. superciliosus

Lanius cristatus Linnaeus, 1758


Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis, Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Holmiæ: impensis direct. Laurentii Salvii. i–ii, 1–824 pp DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.542: 93. Reference page.

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Braunwürger
English: Brown Shrike
Esperanto: Brunkrona lanio
français: Pie-grièche brune
magyar: Barna gébics
հայերեն: Ժուլան
Bahasa Indonesia: Merbah
日本語: アカモズ
한국어: 노랑때까치
മലയാളം: തവിടൻ ഷ്രൈക്ക്
norsk: Brunvarsler
polski: Dzierzba brązowa
русский: Сибирский жулан
svenska: Brun törnskata
ไทย: นกอีเสือสีน้ำตาล
中文: 红尾伯劳

The brown shrike (Lanius cristatus) is a bird in the shrike family that is found mainly in Asia. It is closely related to the red-backed shrike (L. collurio) and isabelline shrike (L. isabellinus). The genus name, Lanius, is derived from the Latin word for "butcher", and some shrikes are also known as "butcher birds" because of their feeding habits. The specific cristatus is Latin for "crested", used in a broader sense than in English.[2] The common English name "shrike" is from Old English scríc, "shriek", referring to the shrill call.[3]

Like most other shrikes, it has a distinctive black "bandit-mask" through the eye and is found mainly in open scrub habitats, where it perches on the tops of thorny bushes in search of prey. Several populations of this widespread species form distinctive subspecies which breed in temperate Asia and migrate to their winter quarters in tropical Asia. They are sometimes found as vagrants in Europe and North America.


In 1747 the English naturalist George Edwards included an illustration and a description of the brown shrike in the second volume of his A Natural History of Uncommon Birds. He used the English name "The Crested Red, or Russit Butcher-Bird". Edwards based his hand-coloured etching on a specimen that had been sent from Bengal to the silk-pattern designer Joseph Dandridge in London.[4] When in 1758 the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus updated his Systema Naturae for the tenth edition, he placed the brown shrike with the other shrikes in the genus Lanius. Linnaeus included a brief description, coined the binomial name Lanius cristatus and cited Edwards' work.[5] The specific epithet is Latin meaning "crested" or "plumed".[6]

Four subspecies are recognised:[7]

L. c. cristatus Linnaeus, 1758 – central, east Siberia and north Mongolia, India to the Malay Peninsula
L. c. confusus Stegmann, 1929 – east Mongolia, southeast Russia and northeast China Malay Peninsula and Sumatra
L. c. lucionensis Linnaeus, 1766 – east China, Korean Peninsula and south Japan southeast China, Philippines, Borneo and Sulawesi
L. c. superciliosus Latham, 1801 – the island of Sakhalin (southeast Russia) and north, central Japan southeast China and east Indochina to the Lesser Sunda Islands

Immature bird, Kolkata, India

This shrike is mainly brown on the upper parts and the tail is rounded. The black mask can be paler in winter and has a white brow over it. The underside is creamy with rufous flanks and belly. The wings are brown and lack any white "mirror" patches. Females tend to have fine scalloping on the underside and the mask is dark brown and not as well marked as in the male. The distinction is not easy to use in the field but has been tested with breeding birds in Japan where the female can be identified from the presence of a brood patch.[8] The use of multiple measurements allows discrimination of the sex of about 90% of the birds.[9] Subspecies lucionensis has a grey crown shading into the brown upperparts and the rump appears more rufous than the rest of the upper back.[10] The tail is more brownish and not as reddish as in the red-backed shrike.[11] Younger birds of lucionensis have a brown crown and lack the grey on the head. Subspecies superciliosus has a broad white supercilium and a richer reddish crown. The tail is redder and tipped in white.[12][13]

A number of confusing forms are known from central Asia where the populations of cristatus, isabellinus and collurio overlap. The taxonomy has been in a state of flux and some forms such as phoenicuroides formerly considered as subspecies of L. cristatus have been moved to the species L. isabellinus.[10][14] Subspecies lucionensis has been recorded interbreeding with superciliosus in Ishikawa, Japan[15] while superciliosus has interbred with Lanius tigrinus in central Japan.[16]
Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden
L. cristatus superciliosus specimen, Collection Naturalis Biodiversity Center

The nominate form breeds in northern Asia from Mongolia to Siberia and winters in South Asia, Myanmar and the Malay Peninsula. The race confusus described from the same region is not well marked but is said to have a wider white brow and paler upperparts and is sometimes included within the nominate population. Subspecies superciliosus (sometimes called the Japanese shrike) breeds on the islands of Sakhalin, Kuril and Japan and winters in Hainan, Sumatra, Java, and the Sundas. Subspecies lucionensis, sometimes known as the Philippine shrike (local names: tarat or pakis-kis),[17][18][19] breeds in Korea and eastern China wintering mainly in Taiwan and the Philippines but also on the Andaman Islands and in peninsular India.[10][20][21][22] Stuart Baker suggested that the species may breed in the Cachar Hills of Assam but the idea was questioned by Claud Buchanan Ticehurst.[23]

This species is rare in Europe and vagrants have been recorded in the United States and Canada.[24][25][26]
Behaviour and ecology
Lanius cristatus lucionensis, the Philippine shrike; note the grey crown and white throat contrasting with the rufescent underside. Kolkata, India

The brown shrike is a migratory species and ringing studies show that they have high fidelity to their wintering sites, often returning to the same locations each winter.[27][28][29] They begin establishing wintering territories shortly after arrival and their loud chattering or rattling calls are distinctive. Birds that arrive early and establish territories appear to have an advantage over those that arrive later in the winter areas.[30][31] The timing of their migration is very regular with their arrival in winter to India in August and September and departure in April.[32] During their winter period, they go through a premigratory moult.[27] Their song in the winter quarters is faint and somewhat resembles the call of the rosy starling and often includes mimicry of other birds. The beak remains closed when singing and only throat pulsations are visible although the bird moves its tail up and down while singing.[11][33]

The breeding season is late May or June and the breeding habitat includes the taiga, forest to semi-desert where they build a nest in a tree or bush, laying two to six eggs.[34]

They feed mainly on insects, especially Lepidoptera.[35] Like other shrikes, they impale prey on thorns. Small birds and lizards are also sometimes preyed upon.[36] A white-eye (Zosterops) has been recorded in its larder.[11] They typically look out for prey from a perch and fly down towards the ground to capture them.[37]

BirdLife International (2016). "Lanius cristatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22705011A93995637. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22705011A93995637.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 142, 219. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
"Shrike". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
Edwards, George (1747). A Natural History of Uncommon Birds. Part II. London: Printed for the author at the College of Physicians. p. 54, Plate 54.
Linnaeus, Carl (1758). Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin). Volume 1 (10th ed.). Holmiae (Stockholm): Laurentii Salvii. p. 93.
Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 121. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (July 2021). "Shrikes, vireos, shrike-babblers". IOC World Bird List Version 11.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
Takagi, M (1996). "A sexual difference in plumage of Brown Shrike subspecies, Lanius cristatus superciliosus". J. Yamashina Inst. Ornithol. 28 (2): 103–105. doi:10.3312/jyio1952.28.103.
Takagi, Masaoki (1996). "Sexual Size Dimorphism and Sex Determination of a Brown Shrike subspecies, Lanius cristatus superciliosus". Jap. J. Ornithol. 45 (3): 187–190. doi:10.3838/jjo.45.187.
Rasmussen, PC & JC Anderton (2005). Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Smithsonian Institution & Lynx Edicions. pp. 349–350.
Ali, S & SD Ripley. Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan. Volume 5 (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 98–100.
McGregor, RC (1909). A manual of Philippine birds. Part 1. Bureau of Printing, Manila. pp. 596–599.
Worfolk, Tim (2000). "Identification of red-backed, isabelline and brown shrikes" (PDF). Dutch Birding. 22 (6): 323–362.
Mauersberger, G; Portenko, L A (1971). "Lanius collurio L., Lanius isabellinus Hemprich u. Ehrenberg und Lanius cristatus L." (PDF). Atlas der Verbreitung palaearktischer Vögel (in German). III. Akademie-verlag, Berlin. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
Ishizuka, T. "A case of hybridization in Brown Shrike subspecies, Lanius cristatus lucionensis and L.c.supercillosus in Kanazawa" (PDF). Strix. 9: 71–75.
Imanishi, S; Yoshimitsu Shigeta & Toshiyuki Yoshino (2007). "Interspecific Pair of a Male Brown and a Female Thick-billed Shrike, Lanius cristatus superciliosus and L. tigrinus, and Their Hybrids at Nobeyama Plateau in Central Japan". J. Yamashina Inst. Ornithol. 38 (2): 90–96. doi:10.3312/jyio.38.90.
Kennedy, Robert (2000). A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198546689.
Ocon, Romy. "Brown Shrike - Bird Watch (Pbase)". Wild Bird Club of the Philippines. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
Obon, Romy. "Trees of Alabang hills". Manila Old Timer. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
Balachandran S & Rajan Sehgal (2008). "Occurrence of Lanius cristatus lucionensis in the Western Ghats, Kerala". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 105 (2): 220–221.
Balachandran, S; Rajan, S Alagar (1994). "Philippine Shrike Lanius cristatus lucionensis, a regular winter visitor to South India". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 91 (1): 143–144.
Mohapatra, KK; Santharam, V (1992). "Occurrence of the Philippine Shrike Lanius cristatus lucionensis Linn. in coastal Andhra Pradesh". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 89 (2): 255–256.
Ticehurst, Claud B (1936). "The Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus Linn.) in Burma and Assam". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 38 (4): 824–825.
King, B.; D. Finch; R. Stallcup & W. Russell (1978). "First North American sighting of Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) and Dusky Warbler (Phylloscopus fuscatus), and second of Red-throated Flycatcher (Ficedula parva)". American Birds. 32: 158–160.
Foxall, Roger & Ian McLaren (1998). "A Brown Shrike in Halifax, Nova Scotia: First for Canada". Birders Journal. 7 (1): 32–36.
"Rare bird seen in Malta for the first time: Brown Shrike spotted in the south by BirdLife". Times of Malta. 3 November 2017.
Lord Medway (1970). "A ringing study of the migratory brown shrike in West Malaysia". Ibis. 112 (2): 184–198. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1970.tb00092.x.
Rimmer, CC & CH Darmstadt (1996). "Non-breeding site fidelity in Northern Shrikes". J. Field Ornithol. 67 (3): 360–366.
Takagi, Masaoki (2003). "Philopatry and Habitat Selection in Bull-Headed and Brown Shrikes". Journal of Field Ornithology. 74 (1): 45–52. doi:10.1648/0273-8570-74.1.45. S2CID 86155111.
Severinghaus, Lucia Liu (1996). "Territory strategy of the migratory Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus". Ibis. 138 (3): 460–465. CiteSeerX doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1996.tb08065.x.
Betts, FN (1929). "Distribution of the Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus cristatus". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 33 (3): 714.
Law, SC (1928). "On the migratory habit of Lanius cristatus cristatus Linn. as observed in the city of Calcutta". Ibis. 70 (3): 478–480. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1928.tb08732.x.
Praveen, J (1995). "The song of the Brown Shrike". Newsletter for Birdwatchers. 35 (1): 18.
Dresser, HE (1902). A manual of palearctic birds. Part 1. Self published, London. pp. 240–242.
Yosef, Reuven (2004). "Perch-site use and inter- and intraspecific aggression of migratory Brown Shrikes (Lanius cristatus) in Southern Taiwan" (PDF). Biological Letters. 41 (2): 113–118. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
Ganguli, U (1962). "The Redtailed Skink as a food for birds". Newsletter for Birdwatchers. 2 (5): 4–5.

Severinghaus, L. L. & C. T. Liang (1995). "Food and foraging of the Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) in Taiwan". In Yosef, R. & F. E. Lohrer (eds.). Shrikes (Laniidae) of the world: biology and conservation. (Proc. of the First Int. Shrike Symposium – Proc. of the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, No. 6). Archbold Biological Station, Lake Placid, Florida, USA. pp. 194–199.

Other sources
Livesey, TR (1935). "The status of the Brown Shrike Lanius c. cristatus (Linn.) in the S. S. States, Burma". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 38 (2): 397–398.
Himmatsinhji MK (1995). "Lanius cristatus Linn. in Kutch, Gujarat — a westward extension". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 92 (1): 123.

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