Subspecies of Brown Shrike

posted in: Morphology-Develop. | 0

“My wife, a keen bird watcher for more than 30 years, has occasionally commented how variable and confusing the Brown Shrikes are. The Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus), is said to have 4 subspecies. I have posted in this in the past and now revisiting the area. I will focus on the adult male plumage, especially head and mantel, and attempt to show some examples. Appreciate any comments, corrections and suggestions. I have numerous images I have not posted to OBI in the past.

1 ShrikeBr-L. c. cristatus ad-m [AmarSingh]

L. c. cristatus (above): the nominate race; the migratory range is quoted as ‘C & S India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar (mainly coast) and Malay Peninsula’. Duller rufous brown cap and mantel (duller russet-brown upperparts); underparts more buff; broad white supercilious. Photographed on 22nd October 2014, note that this common Brown Shrike lacks clear white throat.

2a ShrikeBr-L. c. superciliosus [AmarSingh] a

L. c. superciliosus (above, below): the migratory range is quoted as ‘mainly coastal S China, Hainan, NE & E Indochina, Sumatra, Java and W Lesser Sundas’. Brighter rufous rich cap and mantel; breast and flanks orange cinnamon; wider white band on forehead, broad white supercilious. Photographed on 20th April 2014, this very brightly coloured bird (minimal editing) has bright breast and cap.

2b ShrikeBr-L. c. superciliosus ad-m [AmarSingh] b

L. c. lucionensis (below): the migratory range is quoted as ‘mainly coastal SE China, Taiwan, Philippines, N Borneo and N Sulawesi’. The white-grey forehead merges into a grey cap; mantel pale ash brown; narrower supercilious. Photographed on 29th March 2014, note the pale cap and light/grey mantel.

3 ShrikeBr-L. c. lucionensis ad-m [AmarSingh] a

L. c. confusus (below): the migratory range is quoted as ‘S Malay Peninsula and Sumatra’. Similar to L.c. cristatus but paler.“ Photographed on 15th February 2014, there is confusion here; does not fit any of them. Light cap but not grey. No clear supercilium. Brown upper parts. Possible L. c. confuses?

4  ShrikeBr-Possible L.c. confuses? ad-m [AmarSingh]

“The bird below was photographed on 25th April 2014 is an adult female L. c. cristatus.

5 ShrikeBr-L. c. cristatus-ad-f [AmarSingh]

“The image below is a very kind 1st winter, photographed on 9th September 2014.

6 ShrikeBr-1st winter 090914 [AmarSingh]

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Various times in 2014

Location: Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Urban Environment

1. Wells, D.R. (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 2 (Passarines). Christopher Helm, London.
2. Yosef, R. & International Shrike Working Group (2016). Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
3. Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, The Digital Nature Archive of Singapore, Lanius cristatus.

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