Family Shrikes (Laniidae)

Least Concern

Isabelline Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)


Taxonomy

French: Pie-grièche isabelle German: Isabellwürger Spanish: Alcaudón isabel
Taxonomy:

Lanius isabellinus

Hemprich and Ehrenberg

, 1833,

Gumfuda (= Al Qunfidhah), Arabia

.

See L. collurio (above). Until fairly recently considered conspecific with L. phoenicuroides (see above). Nomenclature of races recently revised#R, as true identity of nominate isabellinus had been confused: race arenarius previously treated as nominate, until examination of the type specimen of isabellinus (collected on non-breeding grounds in W Arabia) showed it instead to be identical to the form hitherto listed as speculigerus; as a result, form previously known as speculigerus becomes nominate, with name speculigerus as a synonym, while form previously treated as nominate takes the oldest available name applicable to it, arenarius. Races form two groups, treated by some Russian authors as two separate species, but nominate race probably intergrades with arenarius in N China (S Inner Mongolia). Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. i. isabellinus Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833 – Daurian Isabelline Shrike – Mongolia (except NW) and S & E Russian Transbaikalia S to NW & N China (SE Altai and NE slopes of Tien Shan, in NE Xinjiang, E to C Inner Mongolia); non-breeding mainly Arabia and NE Africa.
  • L. i. arenarius Blyth, 1846 – Chinese Isabelline Shrike – W & NC China from SE slopes of Tien Shan and Tarim Basin E to NW Gansu and W Inner Mongolia, S to Ningxia; non-breeding mainly Pakistan and N India.
  • L. i. tsaidamensis Stegmann, 1930 – WC China (Qaidam Basin, in N Qinghai); non-breeding mainly Pakistan and N India.
  • Descriptive notes

    17·5–18 cm; 25–34 g. Rather small, compact but long-tailed shrike, with calls and behaviour as L. collurio. Male nominate race has pale greyish... read more

    Voice

    Considered a much better singer than L. cristatus, and calls somewhat reminiscent of those... read more

    Habitat

    Breeds in tamarisk (Tamarix) thickets in river valleys, patches of scrub in dry steppe, in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Almost exclusively insectivorous. Prefers mostly beetles (of families Elateridae, Tenebrionidae, Scarabaeidae) and crickets and... read more

    Breeding

    Laying end of Apr in S of range (S Turkmenistan) to end May in N (Kazakhstan, Altai); one brood. Mating normally begins with loud calls by... read more

    Movements

    Migratory. Non-breeding grounds from sub-Saharan Africa (mostly E from Nigeria, S to NE Tanzania)... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Not well known; probably not uncommon in much of range, but locally uncommon. Global population size not quantified, but believed not... read more

    Recommended citation

    Yosef, R. & International Shrike Working Group (2017). Isabelline Shrike (Lanius isabellinus). 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 https://www.hbw.com/node/60471 on 14 December 2017).