Tag Archives: Lanioturdus torquatus

Bird of the Week – Week 139 – White-tailed shrike

The White-tailed shrike is a pretty little bird and one of the few that is near endemic to Namibia. The males and females have similar grey, white and black plumage, which, together with a very upright stance, makes them look as though they are wearing very formal waistcoats. The females are slightly larger than the males. They are usually found in pairs or small groups and are often quite tame.

White-tailed shrike

The White-tailed shrike is quite small as shrikes go, with a length of about 15 cm. It has a black head with a white forehead. It has a grey mantle and waistcoat; a black breast band separates the white throat from the white under parts; wings are black with large white patches; the short tail is white. The eyes are yellow; bill is black; legs and feet are black.

White-tailed shrike

The preferred habitat of the White-tailed shrike is dry woodland such as acacia and mopane, especially that which includes rocky outcrops or steep hillsides. It feeds mainly on insects, caterpillars, and spiders, which it obtains mainly through gleaning in trees or foraging on the ground. It is not a shy bird, and will often visit campsites, parks and gardens.

The call of the male White-tailed shrike is a loud “pie-ouuww” which may be repeated several times and which is often answered by the female calling a single “tshrrr”.

White-tailed shrike

White-tailed shrikes are monogamous and they build a deep cup-shaped nest, usually from strips of bark interwoven with spider webs. The female lays a clutch of two to three whitish-grey eggs that hatch after an incubation period of approximately 15 days.

White-tailed shrike

The scientific binomial for the White-tailed shrike is Lanioturdus torquatus; Lanioturdus from the Latin for “shrike like a thrush”; and torquatus from the Latin for “collared”. Thus the name describes a thrush-like shrike that has a collar, which is not a bad description, although it really looks more like a batis in a waistcoat than a thrush with a collar.

White-tailed shrike

 

Bird of the week – Week 10 : White-tailed shrike

The white tailed shrike is one of the most easily recognized shrikes in the Southern African region. Looking a bit like an overgrown batis in its black, white and grey plumage, it gives the impression that its head is too big for its short-tailed body and long legs. It is a fairly small passerine, just 15 cm in length.
It is a near endemic to Namibia, found from a little south of Windhoek northwards into south west Angola. Throughout this region it is a common resident in areas of scrubby savanna and thornbush. It is usually found in pairs or small groups of around 12 birds. They forage in trees, gleaning insects from branches and foliage, and also in bushes and on the ground. They are active and restless, continuously on the move.
It is a noisy species, with a variety of far-carrying whistles and ringing calls from the males that are often answered by the females. Sexes are alike in plumage and the female is a little larger than the male. They are monogamous and the nest is a cup usually placed in a shrub or small tree. The female lays 2 to 3 eggs in the clutch that hatch after an incubation period of about 15 days. They have a life expectancy of around 16 years.
The scientific name for the White-tailed shrike is Lanioturdus torquatuslanioturdus
from the Latin “lanius” , a butcher or executioner (hence a shrike) and “turdus”, a thrush; torquatus being the Latin for collared. Thus it is a collared bird that looks like a shrike and also looks like a thrush. Now that’s a good name!
(Jane says:  I think it looks like its wearing a little grey waistcoat and a black bow-tie!)