Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Date created: 23-January-2017

Order: Passeriformes Family: Laniidae
BTO Codes: SR, GRGSH EURING No: 15201
Number in Britain: 62 birds (Winter)
Conservation Status:
UK: Not Assessed
European: Vulnerable
Global: Least Concern (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Passage/Winter Visitor
Subspecies: excubitor recorded in Britain (of 7 subsp. in the world)
Length: 24 cm Wingspan: 32 cm Weight: M/F: 68 g    
Scientific name from: L.: lanius=a butcher and L.: excubitor=a sentinel
World Distribution: BREEDS: n Eurasia, n North America, WINTERS: south to s Europe, c Asia, sw US
Habitat: Open country, tundra
Diet: Large insects, small mammals/reptiles/birds, hunts from high vantage point, prey taken in flight or on ground
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: No population trend available
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore   
British Population Size:
    Winter: 62 individuals in 2006/07 - 2010/11
    Passage: 125 individuals
    First Record: 1544
    Conservation Status:
   Previous Assessments: 2009-2014 Not Assessed     2002-2007 Not Assessed     1996-2001 Not Assessed  
   Races of Concern:
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    No habitat data from BBS
European Population Size:
    Summer: 246 to 285 thousand pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: Bern(III)
Survey Results:

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 26 x 20 mm Egg Weight: 5.3 g (of which 6 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 0
Clutch Size: 4 - 7 eggs
Incubation: 15- 17 days   by the: Female
Fledging: 15 - 18days as: Altricial, naked
First Clutches Laid: Does not breed in Britain, or too few Nest Records
Number of Broods: 1
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: No data
Juvenile Survival: No data
Age at First Breeding: Typical Lifespan: No data
Maximum Age from Ringing: Too few birds ringed
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: C
Wing Length Adult: Insufficient Data
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data
Weight Adult: Insufficient Data
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data

Other Names

Northern Shrike
Has Included Lanius meridionalis
Gaelic: Feòladair-glas Welsh: Cigydd Mawr
Danish: Stor tornskade Dutch: Klapekster
Finnish: Isolepinkäinen (Lapinharakka) French: Pie-grièche grise
German: Raubwürger Hungarian: Nagy örgébics
Icelandic: Grásvarri Irish: Mórscréachán Liath
Italian: Averla maggiore Norwegian: Varsler
Polish: Srokosz Portuguese: Picanço-real
Spanish: Alcaudón real Swedish: Varfågel
Local Names: Butcher Bird, Ash-coloured Shrike

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Panov, E.N. 2011 The true shrikes (Laniidae) of the world: ecology, behaviour and evolution Pensoft, Sofia [598.942 PAN]
Links from
See Also:
Google Scholar search for scientific papers
Wikipedia entry
HBW account (subscription required)
BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides
All About Birds (from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology)