Brown Shrike– adult female with nesting material and behaviour

posted in: Nesting | 1

“A period of busy weekends, helping with medical conferences. Only managing short times in the field and decide this morning to walk around the neighbourhood. My garden and neighbourhood rarely fail to surprise me with interesting observations.

“I went to this corner in the neighbourhood where I usually see a shrike every year during the migration period. Brown Shrikes (Lanius cristatus cristatus) are supposed to return to same wintering sites. (see: Lucia Liu Severinghaus. Territory strategy of the migratory Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus. Ibis1996, Vol 138(3): 460–465 and Lord Medway. A ringing study of the migratory Brown Shrike in West Malaysia. Ibis1970, 112(2): 184-198.)

“I spotted an odd behaviour of this adult female. She was sitting on top of a garden hedge and not on the high-tension wires as usual. She then drove right into the hedge at about a height of 1.5 metres. I thought she was after prey but did not come out. I moved back to watch. She emerged out the other side and dropped to the ground to pick up material. She then spotted me and stopped on an old tree stump near the hedge. After waiting about 5-6 minutes she flew into a tree and I had to return home to go to a conference.

“I know that these are wintering birds and that there is no record of local nesting. However she was carrying nesting material in her beak and the behaviour spoke of nesting. I could not spot any obvious nest but did not look hard as I did not want to frighten off what I believe to be preliminary activity.

“Is this perhaps training for when she returns home soon, or is this a real attempt at nesting locally? Return migration periods for Peninsular Malaysia are stretched out over April-May, and the breeding season up north is late May or June. I will just have to watch and see is anything happens.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Canning Garden Home, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
12th January 2011


One Response

  1. Daisy O'Neill

    Hi Amar,

    So glad you mentioned your observation of a Brown Shrike with material-attempt to make nest? and maybe practicing for the real.
    I have a good hunch that one day, it will be a matter of time when some birder-photog will have this opportunity to prove in photography of them taking up residence and breed here.

    I have a regular one that shows up without fail for the last several years that I have noticed outside my residence, next to riverside.
    When I hear its first call, I knew the migratory season has begun for the Brown Shrikes are just about one of the earliest land migratories to arrive beside the Tiger Shrikes.

    As the months moved on even right up to June for Northern areas as you mentioned, their belly and breast turned a lovely deep buff. It is so lovely to see the best of them and photograph them before they begin their late Spring migration.
    In total, we are looking at about 9months when they are away from their breeding grounds. That surely qualifies for a permanent Avian Visa in Malaysia!

    I try and get the latest one for this year to admire this very well and proportioned bird. Thanks for the article post, Amar.


    These birds remain


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