Lanius sp. what a heck are you doing in ambient urban gardens?

posted Apr 8, 2014, 5:06 AM by iscspm iscspm   [ updated Jan 14, 2015, 2:22 AM ]
A Warning Note!    (photos of headless- Passer montanus - beheaded by Lanius sp. ) below!!  Don't proceed if you don't like it. 



   Have you observed any avian disturbance in your urban garden? Do the urban garden birds  no longer  grace your garden or are they panicking ? Are the eggs disappearing in bird's nest   [I cited this in our publication on Pycnonotus goiavier-    (keywords in the internet- Savillo, Pycnonotus goiavier, domesticity scale)]  or bodies of  dead birds especially Passer montanus (maya)  are left in thorns of some  plants or niched in branchlets of trees in your backyard?  Are some garden birds shrieking in anger? You may have a visitor which looks friendly (share few features of  P. goiavier, a common urban garden bird  and as big as P. goiavier- so no one will expect how brutal this bird is!) but a killer and a butcher, the Lanius sp.  It comes to the same spot (in the same tree) in your garden or backyard in particular months (I failed to determine but this month of April, 2014 it is here) and Lanius' killer instinct could be observed.  It could strip the flesh of its dead prey (using its claws and beak) or behead it first (pls see photo- sorry for the headless photo of Passer montanus) with its curved beak. Lanius failed to pin this prey (far right photo) in the thorn of Citrus sp. where it alighted so the headless dead bird fell to the ground. I took it and photographed it.   The Lanius sp. will find this dead prey in the ground@ or elsewhere and continue eating it. The next day, a new dead and headless  Passer montanus was seen dangling in a  forked branch of the same Citrus sp. (mid photo)  It is a loner bird and usually stays in the same tree during its deadly visit.  This Lanius sp. is a destroyer of  the ambience of urban gardens where  common  birds  fly, nest,  sing and eat or otherwise enjoy in our place/city.  It's even horrible- it looks like that Lanius sp. is the top most predator among birds in the food chain in this urban place. Anyone who can identify the species of this Lanius , please send an email.   Please refer to the photo (bottom left) of Lanius sp.  in Annona squamosa in the same backyard.  

In my first encounter (years ago), it was stripping the flesh of dead bird (claw plus beak) in a tree branch but was disturbed and the dead prey fell but when no human was around , it went back and picked the dead bird and flew somewhere else.

                                    
 
 Current I.D. - L. cristatus** or L.
schach*
                      * "impales the dead  victim on a thorn of a bush only after eating the head or brain [as choice of food]" 
                          Reference ( taken from Wikipedia ref: Long tailed Shrike)
Comment: Single photo not as clear (taken through a screened window)

                     **Brown Shrike- L. cristatus :
                     Tim Worfolk. 2000. Identification (Subspecies) of red-backed, isabelline and brown shrikes. Dutchbirding Journal 
                     Mountain Shrike: 
                     Lanius validirostris  (endemic Phil.) 
                     Tiger Shrike:
                     Lanius tigrinus 
                     Long Tailed Shrike (L. schach) : As Above 

Further remark:   Long tailed shrike in the Phil. is the Lanius schach subspecies nasutus and the distribution of L. schach subspecies is shown here. L schach nasutus has a whole black head (ref: Wikipedia's Long tailed shrike- see above) and if the other subspecies/species could have not reached the area , then this is L. cristatus . If all of the species beheads  their small bird prey before stripping of the flesh and  subsequently eating or if this species has been disturbed and could not continue with stripping of the flesh or if it solely wants to eat the head and impale the rest of the body and leave (if one is a migrant it needs a lot of energy to fly across countries then why leave the rest of the body and just eat the head??)-- these are still  to be discovered. 
                     
 * contributions from experts (ornithologists) are welcomed by ISTE or the Int'l Society for Taxonomic Explorations.                                      
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