Tiger Shrike’s feeding behaviour

“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

6 Responses

  1. Lee Chiu San

    Congratulations, Wai Chong, on a really outstanding photographic sequence.

  2. Am

    Yes, really good documentation, I was about to comment the same. Apparently the bird knows how to make basic use of tools.

  3. Slow Loris

    Suspect is a house mouse rather than a rat because head looks proportional to body.

  4. Kwong

    Thanks all.
    Just lucky to be at the right place at the right time to uncover the Tiger Shrike’s secret cache.

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