Red-backed shrike

Lanius collurio

Red-backed shrike, photo: Tallinn Environment Department

Red-backed shrikes are pretty stocky birds. They have a hooked beak. The male bird can be easily recognised thanks to the rust-coloured back and the black ‘robber mask’. The female birds are variable in colour, but sometimes they are similar to the male birds. They tend to be quiet and alone. When they spot prey, they dash towards it and skilfully catch it, both in the air and on the ground. When hunting prey hiding in the grass, they lurk them like a hawk, rapidly moving their wings while staying in the same spot. They feed on large insects (dragon-flies, grasshoppers, beetles, and bumblebees), but also small rodents and birds. They are known for collecting food reserves, which they store on sharp branches or barbed wire. Red-backed shrikes leave Estonia at the end of August. Migration takes place at night and each bird flies individually. They are under protection (protection category III).