The intrinsic muscles 6f 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 are in many respects very closely allied to the Flycatchers both in habits and in structure, the genus Hemipus even approaching the Muscicapidae in the shape and character of the bill. The Shrikes are now generally admitted to be conveniently divided into three families: (1) the true Laniidae, with normal feathering to the rump; (2) the Pericrocotidae, with the feathers of the rump spinous; (3) the Artamides, which differ entirely in their legs and wings from either of the other two families. Jerdon included the Drongos or Drongo Shrikes in the Laniidae, but Oates kept them in a separate family, Dicruridae, which arrangement seems most convenient. Close to the Flycatchers also come the Warblers, Sylviidae, but these are more definitely separated by the plumage of the young, which is never barred.
In the Laniidae, especially in Lanius, the bill is very strong and is both notched and hooked. The rictal bristles are always present and often highly developed; the tarsus is scutellated and the tail has twelve rectrices. The nestling is strongly barred, generally both above and below and this barring is retained throughout the first winter, though they gradually lessen in degree throughout these months. Some species, however, retain the barring to some extent for two or more years, whilst females retain it longer than males.
Key to Genera.
A. Head not crested.
a.Tail-feathers strongly graduated.
a1. Bill strong, deep and laterally
compressed; margin of upper mandible
near tip strongly notched and toothed. Lanius, p. 284.
b1. Bill depressed and broad; margin of upper mandible near tip merely
notched Hemipus, p. 305.
b.Tail square and not graduated Tephrodornis, p. 308.
B. Head with long crest Platylophus, p. 314.