The family name, and that of the largest genus, Lanius, is derived from the Latin word for "butcher", and some shrikes are also known as butcherbirds because of their feeding habits. The common English name shrike is from Old English scrīc, alluding to the shrike's shriek-like call.
|Long-tailed shrike (Lanius schach)|
Most shrike species have a Eurasian and African distribution, with just two breeding in North America (the loggerhead and great grey shrikes). No members of this family occur in South America or Australia, although one species reaches New Guinea. The shrikes vary in the extent of their ranges, with some species such as the great grey shrike ranging across the Northern Hemisphere to the Newton's fiscal which is restricted to the island of São Tomé.
They inhabit open habitats, especially steppe and savannah. A few species of shrikes are forest dwellers, seldom occurring in open habitats. Some species breed in northern latitudes during the summer, then migrate to warmer climes for the winter.
Shrikes are medium-sized birds, up to 50 cm (20 in) in length, with grey, brown, or black and white plumage. Their beaks are hooked, like those of a bird of prey, reflecting their predatory nature, and their calls are strident.
Shrikes are known for their habit of catching insects and small vertebrates and impaling their bodies on thorns, the spikes on barbed-wire fences, or any available sharp point. This helps them to tear the flesh into smaller, more conveniently sized fragments, and serves as a cache so that the shrike can return to the uneaten portions at a later time. This same behaviour of impaling insects serves as an adaptation to eating the toxic lubber grasshopper, Romalea microptera. The bird waits for 1–2 days for the toxins within the grasshopper to degrade, then they can eat it.
Shrikes are territorial, and these territories are defended from other pairs. In migratory species, a breeding territory is defended in the breeding grounds and a smaller feeding territory is established during migration and in the wintering grounds. Where several species of shrikes exist together, competition for territories can be intense.
Shrikes make regular use of exposed perch sites, where they adopt a conspicuous upright stance. These sites are used to watch for prey and to advertise their presence to rivals.
The shrikes are generally monogamous breeders, although polygyny has been recorded in some species. Co-operative breeding, where younger birds help their parents raise the next generation of young, has been recorded in both species in the genera Eurocephalus and Corvinella, as well as one species of Lanius. Males attract females to their territory with well-stocked caches, which may include inedible but brightly coloured items. During courtship, the male performs a ritualised dance which includes actions that mimic the skewering of prey on thorns, and feeds the female. Shrikes make simple, cup-shaped nests from twigs and grasses, in bushes and the lower branches of trees.
Other species, popularly called shrikes, are in the families:
The Prionopidae and Malaconotidae are quite closely related to the Laniidae, and were formerly included in the shrike family. The cuckoo-shrikes are not closely related to the true shrikes.
AGM-45 Shrike is an American anti-radiation missile designed to home in on hostile anti-aircraft radar. The Shrike was developed by the Naval Weapons Center at China Lake in 1963 by mating a seeker head to the rocket body of an AIM-7 Sparrow. It was phased out by U.S. in 1992 and at an unknown time by the Israeli Air Force (the only other major user), and has been superseded by the AGM-88 HARM missile. The Israel Defense Forces developed a version of the Shrike that could be ground-launched with a booster rocket, and mounted it on an M4 Sherman chassis as the Kilshon (Hebrew for Trident).Aero Commander 500 family
The Aero Commander 500 family is a series of light-twin piston-engined and turboprop aircraft originally built by the Aero Design and Engineering Company in the late 1940s, renamed the Aero Commander company in 1950, and a division of Rockwell International from 1965. The initial production version was the 200-mph, seven-seat Aero Commander 520. An improved version, the 500S, manufactured after 1967, is known as the Shrike Commander. Larger variants are known by numerous model names and designations, ranging up to the 330-mph, 11-seat Model 695B/Jetprop 1000B turboprop.Bell X-9 Shrike
The Bell X-9 Shrike was a prototype surface-to-air, liquid-fueled guided missile designed by Bell Aircraft as a testbed for the nuclear-armed GAM-63 RASCAL. It is named after the bird shrike.
Thirty-one X-9 rockets were delivered, flying from April 1949 to January 1953. The program was used to gather aerodynamic and stability data, and to test guidance and propulsion systems.
None of the missiles survived testing. The only known remaining fragment of an X-9 is part of a vertical stabilizer, at the Larry Bell Museum in Mentone, Indiana.Crested shriketit
The crested shriketit (Falcunculus frontatus), or Australian shriketit, is a bird endemic to Australia where it inhabits open eucalypt forest and woodland. It is the only species contained within both the subfamily Falcunculinae and the genus Falcunculus.Cuckooshrike
The cuckooshrikes and allies in the family Campephagidae are small to medium-sized passerine bird species found in the subtropical and tropical Africa, Asia and Australasia. The roughly 86 species are found in eight (or nine) genera which comprise five distinct groups, the 'true' cuckooshrikes (Campephaga, Coracina, Celebesica, Ceblepyris, Edolisoma, Lobotos, Pteropodocys and Campochaera) the trillers (Lalage), the minivets (Pericrocotus), the flycatcher-shrikes (Hemipus) comprise a total of 316 taxa. The woodshrikes (Tephrodornis) were often considered to be in this family but are probably better placed in their own family, Tephrodornithidae, along with the philentomas and the flycatcher-shrikes. Another genus, Chlamydochaera, which has one species, the black-breasted fruithunter, was often placed in this family but has now been shown to be a thrush (Turdidae).Curtiss A-12 Shrike
The Curtiss A-12 Shrike was the United States Army Air Corps' second monoplane ground-attack aircraft, and its main attack aircraft through most of the 1930s. It was based on the A-8, but had a radial engine instead of the A-8's inline, water-cooled engine, as well as other changes.Curtiss A-18 Shrike
The Curtiss A-18 Model 76A Shrike II was a 1930s United States twin-engine ground-attack aircraft. It was the production test version of that company's A-14 Shrike.Curtiss A-8
The Curtiss A-8 was a low-wing monoplane ground-attack aircraft built by the United States company Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, designed in response to a 1929 United States Army Air Corps requirement for an attack aircraft to replace the A-3 Falcon. The Model 59 "Shrike" was designated XA-8 (the "Shrike" nickname was not officially adopted).Curtiss SB2C Helldiver
The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver is a carrier-based dive bomber aircraft produced for the United States Navy during World War II. It replaced the Douglas SBD Dauntless in US Navy service. The SB2C was much faster than the SBD it replaced.
Crew nicknames for the aircraft included the Big-Tailed Beast or just the derogatory Beast, Two-Cee, and Son-of-a-Bitch 2nd Class (after its designation and partly because of its reputation for having difficult handling characteristics). Neither pilots nor aircraft carrier captains seemed to like it.Delays marred its production—by the time the A-25 Shrike variant for the USAAF was deployed in late 1943, the Army Air Forces no longer had a need for a thoroughbred dive bomber. Poor handling of the aircraft was another factor that hampered its service introductions; both the British Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force cancelled substantial orders.The Truman Committee investigated Helldiver production and turned in a scathing report, which eventually led to the beginning of the end for Curtiss. Problems with the Helldiver were eventually ironed out, and in spite of its early problems, the aircraft was flown through the last two years of the Pacific War with a fine combat record.Curtiss XA-14
The Curtiss XA-14 was a 1930s United States airplane, the first multi-engine attack aircraft tested by the United States Army Air Corps. Carrying a crew of two, it was as fast as the standard pursuit aircraft in service at the time.Curtiss YA-10 Shrike
The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company Model 59B YA-10 was a 1930s United States test and development version of the A-8 Shrike ground-attack aircraft using various radial engines in place of the inline Vee.Great grey shrike
The great grey shrike (Lanius excubitor), known as the northern shrike in North America, is a large songbird species in the shrike family (Laniidae). It forms a superspecies with its parapatric southern relatives, the Iberian grey shrike (L. meridionalis), the Chinese grey shrike (L. sphenocerus) and the loggerhead shrike (L. ludovicianus). Males and females are similar in plumage, pearly grey above with a black eye-mask and white underparts.
Breeding takes place generally north of 50° northern latitude in northern Europe and Asia. Most populations migrate south in winter to temperate regions. The great grey shrike is carnivorous, with rodents making up over half its diet.Isabelline shrike
The isabelline shrike or Daurian shrike (Lanius isabellinus) is a member of the shrike family (Laniidae). It was previously considered conspecific with the red-backed shrike and red-tailed shrike.Killer Shrike
Killer Shrike is the name of two fictional characters appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.Lesser grey shrike
The lesser grey shrike (Lanius minor) is a member of the shrike family Laniidae. It breeds in South and Central Europe and western Asia in the summer and migrates to winter quarters in southern Africa in the early autumn, returning in spring. It is a scarce vagrant to western Europe, including Great Britain, usually as a spring or autumn erratic.
It is similar in appearance to the great grey shrike Lanius excubitor and the Iberian grey shrike Lanius meridionalis being predominantly black, white and grey, with the males having pink-flushed underparts. It is slightly smaller than the great grey shrike, and has a black forehead and relatively longer wings. This species prefers dry open lowlands, and is often seen on telephone wires.
This medium-sized passerine eats large insects, especially beetles, butterflies, moths and grasshoppers. Like other shrikes it hunts from prominent perches and sometimes impales corpses on thorns or barbed wire as a "larder".Loggerhead shrike
The loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) is a passerine bird in the family Laniidae. It is the only member of the shrike family endemic to North America; the related northern shrike (L. borealis) occurs north of its range but also in the eastern Palearctic. It is nicknamed the butcherbird after its carnivorous tendencies, as it consumes prey such as amphibians, insects, lizards, small mammals and small birds, and some prey end up displayed and stored at a site, for example in a tree. Due to its small size and weak talons, this predatory bird relies on impaling its prey upon thorns or barbed wire for facilitated consumption. The numbers of Loggerhead shrike have significantly decreased in recent years, especially in Midwestern, New England and Mid-Atlantic areas.Red-backed shrike
The red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio) is a carnivorous passerine bird and member of the shrike family Laniidae. The breeding range stretches from Western Europe east to central Russia but it only rarely occurs in the British Isles. It is migratory and winters in the western areas of tropical Africa.Space Marines (Warhammer 40,000)
In the fictional universe of Warhammer 40,000, the Adeptus Astartes (colloquial: Space Marines) are genetically modified superhuman warrior-monks, the elite warriors of the Imperium of Man. Space Marines have been one of the starter armies in almost every box edition of Warhammer 40,000, Space Hulk, and Epic. They also feature heavily in other Games Workshop products, such as books, films, and video games, and are central to the universe's setting.Woodchat shrike
The woodchat shrike (Lanius senator) is a member of the shrike family Laniidae. The genus name, Lanius, is derived from the Latin word for "butcher", and some shrikes are also known as "butcher birds" because of their feeding habits. The specific senator is Latin for "senator", so-named because its chestnut cap recalled the colour of the stripe on the toga of a Roman senator. The common name "Woodchat" is an Anglicisation of German waldkatze, literally "woodcat", and "shrike" is from Old English scríc, "shriek", referring to the shrill call.The woodchat shrike breeds in southern Europe, the Middle East and northwest Africa, and winters in tropical Africa. It breeds in open cultivated country, preferably with orchard trees and some bare or sandy ground.