(708) Lanius excubitor aucheri.
Bonaparte's G-rey Shrike.
Lanius aucheri Bonpte., Rev. Zool., 1853, p. 294 (Persia). Lanius fallax. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 460.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Very like pallidirostris, but with a very narrow black forehead, rather grey breast and abdomen, and more black and less white on the secondaries.
Colours of soft parts as in pallidirostris but with the bill black.
Measurements. "Wing 104 to 110 mm.," 107 to 116" (Hartert).
Distribution. Persia, Mesopotamia and Palestine to N E. Africa in Winter ; Afghanistan, Baluchistan and N.W. Frontier of India and very rarely into the Plains of the Punjab and N.W. Frontier Province.
The series of birds with black bills assigned by Oates in the first volume of the Avifauna to Lanius assimilis (=L. c. pallidirostris) are typical in all respects with this form. Its occurrence therefore within our limits is more frequent than has hitherto been considered to be the case, whereas the occurrence of pallidirostris is extremely rare.
Nidification. This Shrike breeds in considerable numbers in Palestine, making a bulky nest of thorny twigs, grasses and roots, lined with wool only, very similar to that of our Indian Grey Shrike. This it places in bushes and low trees, preferably such as are thorny and dense, standing in open country, occasionally in thickets or orchards. The eggs number four to six and are quite indistinguishable from those of Lanius e. lahtora. Eighty eggs average 26.2 x l9.4 mm.: maxima 29.2 x l9.2 and 27.5 x 20.6 mm. ; minima 24.01 x 8.3 mm. The breeding-season is from early March to early May.
Habits. To what extent this Shrike is migratory is not well known. Even in its most Northern habitat many birds are resident throughout the year and probably its appearance in Winter in its most Southern latitudes is due more to individual wanderings rather than to any true migration. In its habits generally it differs in no way from its nearest allies.