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Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 02, 2021

Masked Shrike: 15 Facts You Won't Believe!

Find interesting masked shrike facts for kids.

A carnivore passerine bird, the masked shrike (scientific name: Lanius nubicus) belongs to the family Laniidae. In different languages, the species is known by different names. For example, in Italian it is called the 'averla mascherata', in Finnish the 'valko otsalepinkäinen', and in Calatan the term 'capsigrany emmascarat' is used.

Both sexes are different. The male masked shrike has black upperparts, a white crown, a white forehead and supercilium, and large white patches on its shoulders and primaries. Its long tail feathers are also white. The neck, sides, throat, and underparts are white, with orange flanks and an orange breast. A female is generally duller in color than a male. Females have brownish-black upperparts while their shoulders and underparts are either gray or buff in color.

The species is found in several countries in southeastern Europe such as Bulgaria, the Republic of North Macedonia, and northeast Greece. It is also found in countries like Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Israel. During the spring season, the species migrates to countries in northeast Africa such as Egypt. Vagrant populations have also been witnessed in Algeria, Finland, Kenya, Libya, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain, and Armenia. The masked shrike generally prefers the open woodland as its habitat.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the species in the Least Concern category, however, habitat destruction and the use of pesticides are both major threats to the species.

For more relatable content, check out these loggerhead shrike facts and northern shrike facts for kids.

Masked Shrike Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a masked shrike?

The masked shrike (scientific name: Lanius nubicus) is a passerine bird that is best known for its long tail. The species has several different names such as 'averla mascherata', 'valko otsalepinkäinen', and 'capsigrany emmascarat'. The range of the species covers different countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa.

What class of animal does a masked shrike belong to?

The masked shrike (Lanius nubicus) belongs to the Passeriformes order, the Laniidae family, and the Lanius genus. Some African species of the Lanius genus are known as fiscals.

How many masked shrikes are there in the world?

The population of the masked shrike (Lanius nubicus) is quite large. The European population is around 105,000–300,000 individuals while the global population includes around 142,000–600,000 birds. Since the species is a short-range migrant, a small population has also been found in other countries like Scotland.

Where does a masked shrike live?

The range of the masked shrike (Lanius nubicus) includes different countries of southeastern Europe, Asia, and northeast Africa. In Europe, these birds are found in Bulgaria, the Republic of North Macedonia, and northeast Greece. Turkey, Iran, Syria, Israel, and Iraq are a few countries where the species dwell in the spring season. These birds are also found in Egypt. The species has also been spotted in Algeria, Finland, Kenya, Libya, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain, and Armenia in small numbers.

What is a masked shrike's habitat?

Like most birds of the Passeriformes order, these birds prefer open woodland regions as their dominant habitat. These birds also inhabit orchards and other cultivated lands with large hedges or old trees, they also occur in hills and lowlands. The species breeds at greater altitudes, up to 6,600 ft (2000 m). Also, this migrant bird also dwells in gardens and resorts. The species generally migrates in winters.

Who does a masked shrike live with?

Very little is known about the social behavior of the masked shrike (Lanius nubicus) but most species of the Laniidae family are found in small groups of about six to seven individuals. During the breeding season, this bird tends to become solitary.

How long does a masked shrike live?

The average lifespan of the species is not known as of now but species such as great gray shrikes generally live for around four years. The oldest known individual lived for 12 years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of the masked shrike (Lanius nubicus) starts in early April when male birds chase and compete vocally with each other. Several courtship displays such as singing, movements of their wings, a zig-zagging flight display, and fluttering of their wings are performed. Male birds sometimes feed female birds too.

The nest is built with rootlets, stems, and twigs and it is lined with wool or hair. Both parents are involved in the construction of this nest. Eggs are laid from April to June, and the normal clutch size is four to six eggs. The female shrike incubates eggs for around 14-16 days and once they are born, both parents feed the young birds. These juveniles remain dependent on the adults for around three to four weeks.

What is their conservation status?

The species is found in different continents and the population seems to be stable as of now. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the species in the Least Concern category. In countries like Israel, the population of the species is witnessing a downward trend due to excessive use of pesticides while these birds in Greece and Turkey are facing the threat of habitat loss.

Masked Shrike Fun Facts

What does a masked shrike look like?

Both male and female shrikes are completely different in looks. The male has black upperparts, a white crown, and a white forehead and supercilium. On its shoulders and flight feathers large white patches can be found and its long tail is black with white outer feathers. The neck, sides, throat, and underparts are white, and it has orange flanks and an orange breast. Unlike males, female birds are duller in color. They have brownish-black upperparts and their shoulders and underparts are either gray or buff in color.

These masked shrike facts would make you love them.

How cute are they?

Known for its beautiful long black tail, the masked shrike is one of the most fascinating passerine birds in the Passeriformes order. These birds share a strong bond as both parents construct the nest and feed their chicks together.

How do they communicate?

The masked shrike uses similar methods of communication to other birds. The species produces harsh calls and notes such as 'tsr, tzr' or 'shek' sounds. When threatened or alarmed, the bird produces a rattling 'krrrr' sound. The bird also sings during flight. In the breeding season, several courtship displays are performed.

How big is a masked shrike?

The average body weight and length of this bird are around 0.04-0.05 lb (20–23 g) and 6.7–7.3 in (17–18.5 cm) respectively. The bird is four times bigger than golden-crowned kinglets and ruby-crowned kinglets.

How fast can a masked shrike fly?

The exact speed of this bird in a flight is not known as of now but the species is quite agile in flight and is able to fly in a zigzag motion.

How much does a masked shrike weigh?

The average weight of the species is around 0.04-0.05 lb (20–23 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names given to male and female masked shrikes.

What would you call a baby masked shrike?

The babies of masked shrikes are known as chicks. These juveniles have a pale gray forehead, barred off-white underparts, brown wings, and gray-brown upperparts.

What do they eat?

Masked shrikes are carnivores and they prey on large insects such as grasshoppers and dragonflies, arthropods, and small vertebrates.

Are they dangerous?

These small birds are not dangerous at all.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they generally belong to the wild and they cannot be tamed easily.

Did you know...

Shrikes have many features similar to birds of prey but they lack heavy talons like raptors.

The thin and long black tail helps to spot a masked shrike.

Why do shrikes impale their prey?

These birds impale their prey on thorns or barbed wires, saving it for later consumption.

Why are shrikes called butcher birds?

These birds are known as butcher birds because they commonly impale and store their prey to eat later.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our magpie facts and hawk facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable masked shrike coloring pages.

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