Brown Shrike and a Grass Lizard

Neo Ng’s image of a Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus), also known as Red-tailed Shrike, with a long slender Grass Lizard (Takydromus sp.) between its mandibles is shown below. Note that the shrike has its claws locking the lizard at two points along the slender twig. The lizard is probably impaled on a thorn at a point just behind its head.

ShrikeBr with snake [NeoNg, HongKong]

This Grass Lizard is easily mistaken for a snake until you spot its two pairs of legs just behind the head when the image is enlarged as seen below.

ShrikeBr with snake [NeoNg, HongKong]

The shrike feeds on mainly insects like beetles, grasshoppers, butterflies, cicadas and alate termites. They also take small vertebrates that include lizards, amphibians and birds and their nestlings.

Shrikes have a habit of impaling prey on sharp objects like spines, thorns and exposed twigs LINK 1 and LINK 2. Impaling serves to anchor the prey so that it can be easily dismembered and eaten. Impaling sites serves as their larders. However, animals, including birds, often raid such larders.

Neo Ng
Hong Kong
4th March 2017

Note: Thanks to Wildlife Consultant Subaraj Rajathurai and Kelvin KP Lim of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, National University of Singapore for identifying the lizard.

References:
1.
Wells, D.R., 2007. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London. 800 pp.
2. Yosef, R., 2008. Family Laniidae (Shrikes). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & D. A. Christie (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 13. Penduline-tits to Shrikes. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 732-796.

This post is a cooperative effort between Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behavior through photography and videography to a wider audience.

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