Tiger Shrike’s feeding behaviour

on 15th October 2014

“From Wikipedia, the Tiger Shrike (Lanius tigrinus), also known as Thick-billed Shrike, is a small passerine bird which belongs to the genus Lanius in the shrike family, Laniidae. As Lanius is derived from the Latin word for butcher, shrikes are also known as ‘butcher birds’. A recent visit to Bidadari LINK offers some insight into the feeding behaviour of a Tiger Shrike and how shrikes got known as ‘butcher birds’.

“I first saw this Tiger Shrike perching on a bare branch. After observing it for a while, it flew into a tree. I had difficulty looking for it through the dense foliage but was rewarded when I discovered it perched next to an impaled prey against a broken branch (top, above, below). The shrike must have caught the prey and stored it for later consumption. The prey was a small mammal, most likely a mouse. But this cannot be confirmed as its head was already missing from the carcass. The shrike started to feast on the carcass using its hooked beak to butcher into the fresh (below).

“After a fair bit of flesh had been consumed, the shrike removed the carcass from the broken branch and carried the half consumed carcass to another part of the tree. There, it found another short broken branch and proceeded to wrap the carcass around it (below). The short near-vertical branch was not used to impale the carcass. But it was used as a tool, alike a fulcrum.

“With part of the carcass wrapped and sort of hooked onto this fulcrum, the shrike tugged at its other end (below). The carcass was tore at and stretched at repeatedly. After some great effort, the carcass was torn into two pieces.

“The shrike got higher into the tree where it was found to swallow the torn-off carcass whole in one gulp – complete with legs, tail and skin (below).”

Kwong Wai Chong
13th October 2014

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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