Family Shrikes (Laniidae)

Least Concern

Grey-backed Shrike (Lanius tephronotus)


French: Pie-grièche du Tibet German: Tibetwürger Spanish: Alcaudón tibetano

Collurio tephronotus


, 1831,

Himalayas = near Darjeeling, India


Closely allied to L. schach, and formerly treated as conspecific, but differs in morphology; the two species are largely sympatric and, although race lahulensis sometimes thought to represent a hybrid population between them#R, no definite proof of interbreeding. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. t. lahulensis Koelz, 1950 – N Kashmir E to CN India (Uttarakhand), and probably SW China (W Xizang).
  • L. t. tephronotus (Vigors, 1831) – Nepal E to NE India (Arunachal Pradesh), and C & S China (S Gansu, Ningxia and E Shaanxi S to SE Qinghai, S & E Xizang, SE Yunnan and C Guizhou); non-breeding also S to N India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Indochina.
  • Descriptive notes

    21–23 cm; 39–54 g. Rather small shrike with long tail. Nominate race has black lowermost forehead (just over base of bill) and facial mask through lores and eye... read more


    Little known. Territorial call described as harsh “zzert-zzert…”, “tchert-... read more


    Breeds at high elevations in forest clearings, plateau plains and mountain meadows dotted with... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly insects, such as crickets and grasshoppers (Orthoptera), beetles (Coleoptera) and caterpillars; small vertebrates, such as lizards,... read more


    Season Jun–Jul in India, Apr–Jul/Aug (mainly May–Jun) in S China (Xizang), and late May–early Jul in the mountains... read more


    Most individuals winter at lower altitudes within breeding range. NW race lahulensis... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Not uncommon. Population trends not known, but apparently not at any immediate risk. High-elevation habitat considered more secure than lower-lying... read more

    Recommended citation

    Yosef, R., International Shrike Working Group & de Juana, E. (2020). Grey-backed Shrike (Lanius tephronotus). 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 19 February 2020).