Isabelline Shrike
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Lanius isabellinus

The Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus is a member of the shrike family Laniidae. It is the eastern equivalent of the Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio with which it used to be considered conspecific.

The Isabelline Shrike breeds in south Siberia and central Asia (race L. i. phoenicuroides) and China (race L. i. isabellinus) and winters in the tropics.

It breeds in open cultivated country, preferably with thorn bushes.

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

The plumage is the sandy colour which gives rise to its name. It has a red tail.

Young birds can be distinguished from young Red-backed Shrikes by the much sparser vermiculations on the underparts.

This species is a scarce vagrant to western Europe, including Great Britain, usually in autumn.