Iberian Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis) Picanço-real

Recently split from the Great Grey Shrike, the Iberian Grey Shrike is a resident "Butcher Bird" for the majority of Portugal, absent only from the north west of the country. Butcher Birds are so called for their habit of keeping a "larder" of their prey stuck on spikes. These spikes used to take the form of hawthorn trees etc, but these have now largely been replaced by the ubiquitous barbed-wire, and it is not uncommon to find a grisly row of beetles, crickets, lizards and skinks etc hanging from a roadside fence. This is nowadays seen more as a territorial attraction for the female rather than as a larder for later consumption.

Sexes are alike, with a thin white line above the hook-tipped beak, prominent white wing bars and a very faint pinkish hue on the breast and belly. The bird is easily encountered as it sits in the open scanning the ground below for prey. When leaving a perch it habitually jumps off and falls with wings folded before a rapid burst of wing-beats propels it quickly just above the ground before a swoop up and onto its next perch.



Birding in Portugal

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