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Birdwatching in Africa - Woodchat shrike, Lanius senator

The Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator) is a member of the shrike family Laniidae. The genus name, Lanius, is derived from the Latin word for "butcher", and some shrikes are also known as "butcher birds" because of their feeding habits. The specific senator is Latin for "senator", so-named because its chestnut cap recalled the colour of the stripe on the toga of a Roman senator.

The common name "Woodchat" is an Anglicisation of German waldkatze, literally "woodcat", and "shrike" is from Old English scríc, "shriek", referring to the shrill call.

The woodchat shrike breeds in southern Europe, the Middle East and northwest Africa, and winters in tropical Africa. It breeds in open cultivated country, preferably with orchard trees and some bare or sandy ground.

Distribution and habitat
The breeding range of the woodchat shrike is in southern Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East. The range extends from Portugal to Greece, Turkey, Iraq and Iran, and from Mauritania and Western Sahara in northern Africa to Libya. This bird overwinters in tropical central Africa, its winter range extending from Senegal to Sudan and Ethiopia in the east and southwards to Gabon.

Range map from

Range map
Range map from - Ornithological Portal is one of those MUST visit pages if you're in to bird watching. You can find just about everything there

Woodchat shrike, Lanius senator
Lanius senator - Range Map - Orange: Summer        Blue: Winter
By Scops Source: Tony Harris & Kim Franklin: Shrikes and Bush-Shrikes.
Helm London 2000. S. 70. ISBN 0-7136-3861-3 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The male is a striking bird with black and white upper parts, a chestnut crown and pure white underparts. The race L. s. badius of the western Mediterranean lacks the large white wing patches. In the female and young birds, the upperparts are brown and white and vermiculated. Underparts are buff and also vermiculated.

Length: 19 cm
Wingspan:26 - 28 cm.
Weight: 33 - 45 g
Distinctive Feature

• Black forehead
• Broad patch round the eye
• Chestnut-red cowl on rear crown and upper mantle
• Oval shoulder patches
Similar Species

From opus at the forum for wild birds and birding.
Female / Male

• Female and Juvenile - dull brown upperparts and buff underparts, both of which are vermiculated.

From opus at the forum for wild birds and birding.

Listen to the Woodchat shrike

Woodchat shrike, Lanius senator
By Didier Descouens - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Behaviour and ecology
This migratory medium-sized passerine eats large insects, small birds and amphibians. Like other shrikes it hunts from prominent perches, and impales corpses on thorns or barbed wire as a "larder".

This species often overshoots its breeding range on spring migration, and is a rare, but annual, visitor to Great Britain. The Balearic race badius has occurred in Britain around four times as a vagrant, and has also been recorded once in Ireland.

Conservation status
Conservation status
Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2017: e.T22705095A118777394.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sighted: 21 October 2019 (Date of first photo that I could use)
Location: Awash National Park, Ethiopia

Woodchat shrike, Lanius senator
Woodchat shrike - Awash National Park, Ethiopia - 21 October 2019

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