Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator) Picanço-barreteiro

A summer visitor to the whole of Portugal barring the north western corner, Woodchat Shrikes arrive here erratically anytime from the end of February onwards, with the main fall being in early April. They leave again in September. Sexes can be told apart by the amount of white on the lore, the female and immatures having a larger amount than the male.

Along with the Iberian Grey Shrike and several other long-distance migrants, numbers are sadly falling throughout Portugal, and the species is increasingly hard to come across.

Chicks are fledged towards the end of June and they contrast greatly with the adults, having a light brown and grey scaly plumage, and, once fledged, generally being larger and fatter than the adults feeding them.

The scientific name is entertaining; "Lanius" meaning butcher, (as the Shrikes are commonly known as "Butcher Birds" from their grisly habit of hanging dead lizards, beetles, skinks  etc from sharp spikes in their territory), and "senator" as a description of the red colour of their head being the same hue as the togas worn by Roman Senators, so an English translation could be rendered as "Butcher Politician".


Birding in Portugal

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