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Species Guide
A photo of a Isabelline Shrike (Lanius isabellinus), male
Isabelline Shrike, Male

Isabelline Shrike

Lanius isabellinus

The Isabelline Shrike, or Daurian Shrike, known scientifically as Lanius isabellinus, is a fascinating member of the shrike family, Laniidae. This bird is characterized by its isabelline plumage, a sandy hue that lends the species its name, and a distinctive red tail.

Identification Tips

Adult Isabelline Shrikes can be recognized by their sandy-colored feathers and the reddish hue of their tails. Juveniles may be identified by their underparts, which display vermiculations that are much sparser compared to the young of the closely related Red-backed Shrikes.


The Isabelline Shrike favors open, cultivated landscapes, often with the presence of thorn bushes, which provide ideal perches for hunting and surveillance.


This species boasts an extensive range, from the Caspian Sea to north and central China, and southeast to the Qaidam Basin. During the winter months, it migrates to Africa and Arabia, where it can be found in regions such as the Great Rann of Kutch.


The Isabelline Shrike is migratory and exhibits intriguing feeding habits. It preys on large insects, small birds, rodents, and lizards. True to its family's reputation, it often impales its prey on thorns or barbed wire, creating a larder for later consumption.


Breeding occurs in open and cultivated areas, where the presence of thorn bushes is preferred, likely for nesting and defensive purposes.

Similar Species

While similar to the Red-backed and Red-tailed Shrikes, the Isabelline Shrike can be distinguished by its unique coloration and the sparser vermiculations on the underparts of its juveniles.

Diet and Feeding

The Isabelline Shrike's diet consists of large insects, small birds, rodents, and lizards. It employs a 'sit-and-wait' strategy from prominent perches to hunt its prey.

Conservation status

The Isabelline Shrike is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that, for now, the species does not face any imminent threats to its survival.

Isabelline Shrike Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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