Family Shrikes (Laniidae)

Least Concern

Grey-backed Fiscal (Lanius excubitoroides)


French: Pie-grièche à dos gris German: Graumantelwürger Spanish: Alcaudón dorsigrís

Lanius excubitoroides

Prévost and Des Murs

, 1847,

Abyssinia and Nubia = White Nile


Contrary to HBW, same authors’ emendation to “excubitorius” was not published simultaneously, so original spelling holds priority; present species name avoids homonymy by virtue of one-letter difference (ICZN Code, Art. 57.6)#R#R. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. e. excubitoroides Prévost & Des Murs, 1847 – Sahel zone of SE Mauritania and Mali, extreme NE Nigeria, N Cameroon, SW & SE Chad and N Central African Republic E to S Sudan, S (but not SW) South Sudan, W Uganda and WC Kenya (Rift Valley).
  • L. e. intercedens Neumann, 1905 – C Ethiopia (S & W from L Tana), probably also extreme SE South Sudan, S to NE Uganda and W Kenya (W of Elgeyo Escarpment).
  • L. e. boehmi Reichenow, 1902 – SC Uganda, extreme E DRCongo, E Rwanda, E Burundi, W Tanzania (L Victoria S patchily to L Malawi) and SW Kenya (E shores L Victoria).
  • Descriptive notes

    25–26 cm (nominate); male 47–63·5 g, female 46·5–59 g (Kenya). A large, robust shrike with long, graduated tail. Male nominate race has black... read more


    Appears to have about six different calls, consisting of harsh notes, noisy chattering, and rasping... read more


    Thorn-scrub and open acacia (Acacia) savanna; common in bushy and wooded grassland and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods, mainly large insects such as Lepidoptera (Cossus caterpillars), Hymenoptera (ants of genus Dorylus) and... read more


    Season linked with rains and associated abundance of prey (particularly insects), usually follows rains: Feb–Mar in Mauritania and... read more


    Most populations probably resident. Regular local movements by some birds likely in W parts of... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to locally common; rare in W of range. Conservation status not properly assessed. In E range population probably stable, but surveys... read more

    Recommended citation

    Yosef, R., International Shrike Working Group & Christie, D.A. (2020). Grey-backed Fiscal (Lanius excubitoroides). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 January 2020).