Family Shrikes (Laniidae)

Least Concern

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)


French: Pie-grièche écorcheur German: Neuntöter Spanish: Alcaudón dorsirrojo

Lanius collurio


, 1758,

Europe = Sweden


Closely related to L. cristatus, L. phoenicuroides and L. isabellinus; has in the past been considered conspecific with one or all of these, but genetic analyses support treatment as separate species. Hybridizes with all three aforementioned species#R#R#R: mixed pairs and hybrids with L. phoenicuroides regular where ranges overlap; occasional hybridization with L. isabellinus and L. cristatus in C Asia. Also hybridizes, rarely, with L. senator#R#R. Proposed races kobylini (SE Europe to Asia Minor and NE Iran) and pallidifrons (W & WC Siberia) sometimes accepted, often tentatively (as in HBW), but both are strongly variable individually and perhaps due to influence of hybridization; juxtus (described from E England) is undiagnosable. Treated as monotypic.


Europe (except N, NW & SW) E to WC Siberia (NW Altai), S to N Iberia, Sardinia, S Italy, Sicily, Balkans, Asia Minor, Levant, Caucasus and NW Iran. Winters in S & E Africa.

Descriptive notes

17–19 cm; 22·5–34 g. Rather small shrike with fairly short wings and longish tail; when excited, indulges in tail movement in form of loose flick or... read more


Main call a hoarse, muffled “gä”, “gwä” and “krew”,... read more


Requires sunny, warm, usually dry, and level or gently sloping terrain, with scattered bushes,... read more

Food and feeding

Opportunistic, taking mainly insects, especially beetles (Coleoptera), Orthoptera and Hymenoptera, also other invertebrates; also small... read more


Laying from early May or mid-May (according to latitude) to Jul; usually one brood, rarely two (two recorded in Belgium, France and Germany... read more


Migratory; non-breeding range in E & S Africa S from extreme S Somalia (rare) and SE and... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common to uncommon or rare. European breeding population estimated as exceeding 6,300,000 pairs, but underwent moderate... read more

Recommended citation

Yosef, R., International Shrike Working Group & Christie, D.A. (2019). Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio). 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 7 December 2019).