Family Shrikes (Laniidae)

Least Concern

Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach)


French: Pie-grièche schach German: Schachwürger Spanish: Alcaudón schach

Lanius schach


, 1758,

“Canton area”, Guangdong, south-east China


Formerly treated as conspecific with L. tephronotus. Races of present species form five groups, based mainly on size, tail length and plumage#R. New Guinea form stresemanni, appearing fairly distinct in plumage and morphology and geographically remote from others, merits taxonomic study#R. Mainland races tend to intergrade; intermediates between erythronotus and tricolor sometimes referred to as “nigriceps”, a name better applied to a “swarm of intergrades” in NC India#R. Form kathiawarensis (S Gujarat, in W India)#R differs little from caniceps and here included within it. Other proposed races are formosae (Taiwan) and hainanus (Hainan), both inseparable from nominate, and jaxartensis (C Asian plains), not fully separable from erythronotus; name fuscatus, given to melanistic birds from SE China and Hainan, has no taxonomic significance. Nine subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. s. erythronotus (Vigors, 1831) – Indian Long-tailed Shrike – SC Kazakhstan (breeding record in 2016 in NW#R), S Uzbekistan, E Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, NC & E Afghanistan and Pakistan (except SW) E to N & NC India; probably also NE Iran#R.
  • L. s. caniceps Blyth, 1846 – NC & peninsular India and N Sri Lanka.
  • L. s. schach Linnaeus, 1758 – Chinese Long-tailed Shrike – C, S & SE China (including Hainan), Taiwan and N Vietnam (Tonkin and Annam).
  • L. s. tricolor Hodgson, 1837 – Himalayan Long-tailed Shrike – Nepal and E India E to Myanmar, S China (S Xizang, Yunnan), N Laos and N Thailand.
  • L. s. longicaudatus Ogilvie-Grant, 1902 – C, SE & S Thailand and S Laos, possibly also S Myanmar (Tenasserim).
  • L. s. bentet Horsfield, 1821 – Sunda Long-tailed Shrike – S Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, SE Borneo, Bali and Lesser Sundas (E to Timor and Sermata#R).
  • L. s. nasutus Scopoli, 1786 – Philippine Long-tailed Shrike – Philippines (except Palawan and Sulu Is) and NE Borneo.
  • L. s. suluensis (Mearns, 1905) – Sulu Archipelago (Jolo), in S Philippines.
  • L. s. stresemanni Mertens, 1923 – E New Guinea (Huon Peninsula and adjacent hinterland, S slopes of mountains in SE).
  • Descriptive notes

    20–25 cm; 50–53 g (nominate), 33–42 g (erythronotus). Medium-sized shrike with long to very long, graduated tail. Nominate race has forehead and... read more


    Calls harsh, squealing or yapping, described as “scha-scha-scha-schi, schi, schi” and... read more


    Open country with scrub, light woodland and bushes, mainly in cultivated areas, also steppe and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Very opportunistic. Wide variety of insects, with preference mostly for larger species and groups, e.g. grasshoppers and crickets (... read more


    Laying from end Mar to Jul, mainly from Apr/May, in N & C parts of range; in S laying recorded in Feb, Jun–Sept and Dec in Malay... read more


    Resident, partially migratory and migratory; some altitudinal movement also occurs. Non-breeding... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common to uncommon; rare in extreme NW of range, and possibly extinct in e.g. Tajikistan. Has large global range, with extent of occurrence... read more

    Recommended citation

    Yosef, R., International Shrike Working Group & de Juana, E. (2019). Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach). 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 8 December 2019).