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Butcher Bird's an impaler.

THE recent article by Mike Lockley welcomed the return of a rare bird to the Midlands.

An ornithologist's dream - the red-backed shrike lanius collurio making an appearance after an absence of 30 years.

ese summer migrant visitors were once abundant in the eastern counties of England, but this particular species became a casualty of intensive farming with their natural habitat reclaimed and this sparrow-like expert mimic nally departed our shores.

e male bird sports a grey crown, abroad black eye patch and a chestnut coloured back. e female in contrast is browner and duller in appearance.

ey have one brood each year between May and July consisting of ve to six eggs. Amongst hedgerows or forest margins in the vicinity of the nest one may happen upon a grisly array of insects, lizards and grasshoppers skewered on the spikes of thorny shrubs, often mistake for a larder, this in actual fact is a cache set aside for leaner times. Its much varied diet also includes frogs, small birds and rodents.

e shrike, appropriately nicknamed 'the Butcher Bird', derives from the somewhat barbaric practice of impaling its prey. At the end of August it departs for its winter quarters, the sunnier climes of tropical and southern Africa.

L Hollier, Bartley Green

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jul 19, 2014
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