Genus LANIUS

The genus Lanius comprises a very extensive group of birds found over Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America. Fifteen species are found within our limits, some of which are resident, others winter visitors, and a few locally migratory. With few exceptions they occur abundantly over large tracts of country.

In Lanius the sexes are always alike, but the females appear to retain traces of the barred plumage of the nestling longer than the males. The bill is very strong and laterally compressed, with a large tooth and a deep notch near the tip of the upper mandible, which is bent down and hooked. The nostrils are roundish and overhung by numerous hairs and bristles, but not completely hidden. The wings are strong. The tail is generally longer than the wing, but in a few instances about equal to it, and strongly graduated. The plumage is firm. The head of a Shrike is rather larger in proportion to the size of the body than is usual in the other Passeres, and in life this character is very evident in the majority of the species.

The Shrikes are solitary birds, frequenting spare jungle, gardens, fields, and the outskirts of forests. They perch on some prominent object such as a post or a bare branch and watch for insects, which they capture on the ground and return to their perch to devour. Some species have the habit of impaling their prey on a thorn and then tearing it to pieces. Their notes are harsh and at times frequently uttered.

The Shrikes make, in trees and bushes, large cup-shaped nests, composed of fine twigs, grass, and dead leaves intermingled with other substances. The number of eggs laid is usually four or five, and they may be described in general terms as being greenish white, blotched and spotted with various shades of brown and pale purple.

Key to the Species.

a. Upper tail-coverts and middle pair of tail-feathers of totally different colours.
a1. A white patch on primaries.
a2. Tail entirely black and white, the two colours abruptly defined.
a3. Back grey.
a4. Two middle pairs of tail-feathers entirely black.
a5. Lesser wing-coverts black with grey tips………………L. lahtora, p. 459.
b5. Lesser wing-coverts entirely grey.
a6. Inner webs of secondaries chiefly white………………L. assimilis, p. 460.
b6. Inner webs of secondaries chiefly black………………L. fallax, p. 460.
b4. All the tail-feathers broadly white at their base………………L. homeyeri, p. 461.
b3. Back chestnut.
c4. Upper tail-coverts whitish grey………………L. vittatus, p. 462.
d4. Upper tail-coverts chestnut………………L. collurioides, p. 462.
b2. Tail black or brown and rufous, blending into each other.
c3. Crown of head black………………L. nigriceps, p. 463.
d3. Crown of head grey………………L. erythronotus, p. 464.
b1. No white patch on primaries.
c2. Head and back grey………………L. tephronotus, p. 465.
d2. Head grey, back chestnut………………L. collurio, p. 466.
b. Upper tail-coverts and middle pair of tail-feathers of same colour.
c1. Crown of head and back nearly of the same rufous or sandy colour.
e2. Tail shorter than wing ; outer tail-feathers falling short of tip of tail by about half Length of tarsus.
e3.An indistinct white supercilium ; lores whitish………………L. isabellinus, p. 467.
f3. A very distinct white supercilium ; lores deep black………………L. phoenicuroides, p. 468.
f2. Tail equal to or longer than wing; outer tail-feathers falling short of tip of tail by about Length of tarsus.
g3. Whole crown rufous, darker than back………………L. cristatus, p. 468.
h3. Anterior part of crown grayish white; posterior part grayish brown like back………………L. lucionensis, p. 469.
d1. Crown grey; hack chestnut barred with black………………L. tigrinus, p. 470.
The Grey Shrikes, of which there are four representatives in India, are very numerous and are not easily distinguished. The four Indian species, however;- are sufficiently distinct and may be recognized without difficulty.

The following species may hereafter be found to occur within our limits : - (1) L. minor, a small species with the lower plumage in the adult tinged with pink, and with a very small first primary, less than a third of the Length of the second. Swinhoe obtained this species at Kandahar. (2) L. grimmi, a pale desert form, very light ashy grey above, the lores whitish and the eye-baud pale brown ; the tail white at the base as in L, homeyeri ; the basal halves of the inner webs of the secondaries white, the remainder of each feather brown, not black. A specimen was obtained by Blanford at Bahu Kelat in Persian Baluchistan, in February. Other forms may not improbably be found in Sind and the Punjab, as the Shrikes are great wanderers, but space will not allow of their being noticed here.

BookTitle: 
The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma
Reference: 
OATES EW. The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Vol.1 1889.
Title in Book: 
Genus LANIUS
Book Author: 
Eugene William Oates, Edited by William Thomas Blanford
Year: 
1889
Page No: 
457
M_ID: 
19039
M_SN: 
Lanius
Volume: 
Vol. 1
Term name: 
id: 
645

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith