- Lanius borealis
Length 22-26 cm (8½-10¼ in), weight 50-80 g
- Grey head and back
- Black mask on face extending to base of bill, but not over top of bill
- Distinctive stout, hooked black bill
- White belly, throat, flanks and chest (flanks often faintly barred pale grey in females)
- Black wings with white patch at base of primaries
- Medium-long tail, black with white outer feathers
- More strongly barred brown below and with a brownish wash; mask indistinct brownish
- Base of bill paler
Complex, and potentially liable to further revision. Was formerly considered conspecific with Great Grey Shrike, and some Asian populations may be split or possibly even returned to Great Grey Shike.
- L. b. borealis: Northern Alaska to extreme northern British Columbia and east to eastern Canada (northern areas of Labrador, Quebec, and Ontario); winters south to northern USA
- L. b. sibiricus: Eastern Siberia to northern Mongolia and Kamchatka Peninsula
- L. b. bianchii: Sakhalin and southern Kuril Islands (northern Japan)
- L. b. mollis: Russian Altai and north-western Mongolia
- L. b. funereus: Western China (Tien Shan Mountains)
An additional subspecies L. b. invictus was sometimes recognised for the populations in the western half of North America, but is not now considered distinct.
L. b. mollis is distinct in the adult plumage resembling the juvenile plumage of the other subspecies, with fine barring on the underparts at all ages.
Open upland forests and bogs with scattered trees. In winter, heathland, and sometimes farmland.
Diet includes large insects, small mammals and birds and it often stores uneaten prey by impaling it on thorns. They commonly hunt from a very high perch usually a tall tree top.
An assortment of harsh nasal sounds.
- Gill, F. and Donsker, D. (Eds). 2017. IOC World Bird Names (version 7.3). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
- Olsson, U. et al. (2009). The Lanius excubitor (Aves, Passeriformes) conundrum — Taxonomic dilemma when molecular and non-molecular data tell different stories. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 55: 347–357.
- BirdForum Opus contributors. (2021) Northern Shrike. In: BirdForum, the forum for wild birds and birding. Retrieved 17 April 2021 from https://www.birdforum.net/wiki/Northern_Shrike
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