The intrinsic muscles of the syrinx fixed to the ends of the bronchial semi-rings; the edges of both mandibles smooth, or the upper one simply notched or toothed, or both; hinder aspect of tarsus smooth, composed of two entire longitudinal laminae; wing with ten primaries; tongue non-tubular ; nostrils clear of the line of forehead, the lower edge of the nostril nearer to the commissure than the upper edge is to the culmen; plumage of the nestling cross-barred ; rectrices twelve ; nostrils more or less overhung by bristles and hairs ; an autumn moult only *.
The Laniidae or Shrikes are a group of birds in which the plumage of the young is cross4)arred, as a rule both above and below. As thus defined, this group is of the same extent as the Laniidae of Jerdon, with the exception that the Dicruridae are here separated from the family.
In the Laniidae, and especially in Lanius, the bill is very strong, being both hooked and notched. These birds live almost entirely on insects, the true Shrikes occasionally seizing a small bird or mammal. Some descend to the ground to seize their prey, a few catch insects entirely on the wing, and others, again, merely search branches and leaves for their food.
Some of the genera of Laniidae are remarkable for the spinous character of the shafts of the rump-feathers. These constitute the subfamily Campophaginae of Jerdon. The only other Indian bird possessing this curious structure of the feathers is Pinarocichla (p. 279); but whereas in Campophaga and the allied genera it is the feathers of the rump which are stiffened, in Pinarocichla it is chiefly the feathers of the back.
All the Laniidae have rictal bristles, a scutellated tarsus, and twelve tail-feathers. They have only one moult a year. The young retain the barred plumage throughout their first winter, the bars gradually becoming fewer and some disappearing entirely by a change of colour in the feather. In some few genera the barred plumage appears to be retained for two or more years, and traces of bars may be detected on the breast of what are apparently aged birds.
I shall divide the Laniidae into two subfamilies only, the Laniince and the Artaminae.
Wings when folded not reaching beyond middle of tail; first primary not shorter than tarsus ; second primary falling short of tip of wing………………Laniince, p. 456.
Wings when folded reaching quite to tip of tail; first primary very minute, much shorter
than tarsus; second primary longest in wing………………Artaminae, p. 498.
* Gadow states that some of the Shrikes have a seasonal change of plumage, I think that he is in error on this point.