Shrikes are a charismatic group of birds occurring throughout most of the Old World and North America. The family Laniidae consists of 31 species in three genera, if the Southern Grey Shrike and Great Grey Shrike are accepted as separate species which the author recommends. This book is the first to cover all the shrikes in one volume.
Shrikes because of their habit of impaling their prey on the thorns of bushes, were known in the countryside as 'butcher-birds' and, indeed, their Latin name lanius means butcher. They are small to medium-sized birds. The smallest, Emin's Shrike which occurs in central Africa, is about the size of a House Finch or Greenfinch, and the largest is the Chinese Grey Shrike. One of their most striking features is their raptor-like hooked bill. Another typical feature is their face mask which gives them the look of small, fierce highwaymen.
Many species are of conservation concern including the Great Grey Shrike, The Lesser Grey Shrike, The Woodchat Shrike and the Red-backed Shrike in Europe and the Loggerhead Shrike in North America. The decline of these species has been largely caused by changing farming methods, but all are now legally protected.
This brilliant book brings together the most recent information on the shrike family and the superb text and illustrations should lead to successful and safe identification of all species in the field.