Red-backed shrike

(Lanius collurio)
Migratory bird. It breeds in Paggaio and overwinters in tropical Africa.
Sophia Siggiridou_Kostas Vidakis, MSc

Distribution of the species

The species is common in Paggaio. The local breeding population is smaller than the 2% of the national population (estimated at 40,000 pairs). The conservation status of the local population, which is not isolated within its wider distribution range, is considered good. In the study area , the species is mainly found in habitats with sparse shrubs, in the open areas of the alpine zone near the forest limit and in the open habitats of the lower altitudes, including agroforestry areas with shrubs, individual trees and plants.

Description of the species (biological and ecological features)

Medium-sized, with a long black-and-white tail, strong legs with sharp talons and a wide black eye stripe, like a robber’s mask. Ash head, light rosy-brown underparts, reddish upperparts. Females are duller gray-brown. It is often observed in an upright position, wagging his tail sideways when it is anxious. It uses a straight and fast flight for short distances, a wavy one for longer distances. Lanius means butcher in Latin. It has been given the nickname “butcher bird” because of its habit of storing prey by nailing it to large thorns of bushes, sharp tips of reeds, even barbed wire.

Migratory bird. It breeds in Paggaio and overwinters in tropical Africa. It is observed in large flocks mainly during the autumn migration. It is found in open areas with crops, forest clearings, sparse vegetation, pastures, and in areas with scattered shrubs and hedgerows. It builds its nest in dense, often thorny bushes. It locates its prey usually by monitoring the surroundings from an observation point. It feeds mainly on insects and other invertebrates, but also on small mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

The main pressures and threats for the species are related to the degradation and destruction of its suitable habitats, mainly due to the expansion and intensification of agriculture, that result in the destruction of hedgerows. Also, the afforestation of open areas, housing development and the use of pesticides that cause a reduction in available food are threats for the species.

Conservation status

Least Concern.

Conservation state

Protected under the 2009/147/EU Directive (Annex I) and the Bern Convention (Appendix II). Listed as Least Concern in Greece and in Europe, by the Greek Red Data Book and the IUCN correspondingly. Also assigned to SPEC2 category (European species of conservation concern) by BirdLife International.