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The Woodchat Shrike belongs to the Laniidae family in the Passerine order. It is 17-19 cm in size and 29-37 grams in weight. The Woodchat Shrike is a medium sized song bird. Both male and female share similar coloration but differ by the faded colors of the females. The cap is reddish-brown colored in the males and light brown-orange in females. Across the eye there's a wide black stripe that goes from the forehead all the way to the back of the head. The back, tail and wings are black while the shoulders, the rump and the base of the flight feathers are white. The black and white pattern is especially obvious during flight. The under parts are light-colored, pinkish-white in the males and usually with a crescents pattern in the females. The beak is short and thick with a small hook at the end which uses for hunting like the rest of the shrikes. The diet consists of a variety of different insects and reptiles and even small birds and mice. The Woodchat Shrike may be mistaken for the Masked Shrike which resembles it by the black and white colors, but the masked shrike is smaller and has a black head instead of brown. The Woodchat Shrike is found mainly in open groves and agricultural lands with scattered trees. It usually stands on high viewpoints such as trees or electricity poles from which it scans its surrounding on the look for prey. The meaning of its Latin name – "Lanius" is the "butcher" for its habit to prey on small animals and birds, and Senator for the red hat that was one of the symbols of the United States senate and resembles the shrike's brown-reddish cap. The Woodchat Shrike breeds around the Mediterranean and spreads north to Germany, south to northern Africa and east to Turkey, Iraq and Iran. There is also a breeding population in the Arab Peninsula. All the populations migrate to winter at tropical Africa. In Palestine 2 out of the 3 known subspecies of the Woodchat Shrike can be found. The eastern subspecies - L.s. niloticus that breeds in Palestine, and the western subspecies - L.s. senator that breeds in Europe and northern Africa and only passes through Palestine during migration. The autumn migration starts at the begging of June to mid October while the peak is during mid-august to early September. The spring migration starts from the end of January to June while the peak is during March to April. Most of the juveniles leave the nests after the breeding season and start to scatter away from the breeding sites before the autumn migration start.
Conservation status – least concern.
Migratory behaviour: Breeder