Shrikes (like this Grey-backed Fiscal) are little wannabe raptors. They are quick and intense, with the requisite taste for lizards, snakes, and fledglings, but they’ve been evolutionarily deprived of the proper tools… so they improvise. Sure their bill is a slightly hooked which helps in nipping little chunks off their prey… but their talons need some help.
Luckily they live in acacia country where thorns abound. Who needs talons when you can skewer your prey to your heart’s content, leave it to sit for awhile so the skin loosens up in the heat, then eat your fill. No wonder they’ve earned the moniker “butcher bird.”
This one was calling to its family group as they wandered through the thorns searching for tidbits. The Long-tailed Fiscal pictured below has found a grasshopper and keeps a firm grip on both ends as it finds the nearest thorn laden bush.
Tanzania’s more commonly seen shrikes are the Common Fiscal, Long-tailed Fiscal, Grey-backed Fiscal, the beautiful dark Magpie Shrike, and the Northern White-crowned Shrike (seen in the series below).
CLICK HERE to revisit part one “Super Starlings.”