Family Shrikes (Laniidae)

Least Concern

Red-tailed Shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides)


French: Pie-grièche du Turkestan German: Rotschwanzwürger Spanish: Alcaudón colirrojo
Other common names: Turkestan Shrike, Rufous-tailed Shrike

Otomela phoenicuroides


, 1875,

Shymkent, south Kazakhstan


See L. collurio. Until recently, usually treated as conspecific with L. isabellinus, but differs in its tawny-rufous vs pale greyish crown (2); darker sandy-grey upperparts and tail (1); bold vs indistinct white supercilium and strong white vs buffy underparts (2); different wing formula (1); and different migration route and moult regime#R (1); vocalizations also said to differ somewhat. Proposed race karelini (Syr Darya to Turkmenistan), grey above (including crown) and very pale below, might be a hybrid form representing introgressed populations between present species and L. collurio#R#R; further investigation needed. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

C & E Kazakhstan S to Transcaspia, NE, E & S Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan (N and probably W of R Indus) and extreme NW China (NW Xinjiang); non-breeding mainly Arabia and NE & E Africa, with some in W Africa.

Descriptive notes

16·5–18 cm; 25–38 g, in Kenya 19·4–32·1 g (includes at least a few L. isabellinus). Rather small, compact but long-tailed shrike, with calls and behaviour as... read more


Resembles that of L. collurio, L. isabellinus and L. cristatus.... read more


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

Food and feeding

Very few data specific to this taxon since split from L. isabellinus. Probably almost exclusively insectivorous like L.... read more


Lays end of Apr in S of range (S Turkmenistan) to end May in N (Kazakhstan, Altai); mid Apr–mid Jun in Pakistan; single-brooded. Mating... read more


Migratory. Precise range in non-breeding season, especially in Africa clouded by previous lumping... 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

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Red-tailed Shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides). 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).