Lanius minor (Lesser grey shrike) 

Gryslaksman [Afrikaans]; Nankuwo (generic term for shrike) [Kwangali]; Tšemeli (also applied to Red-backed shrike and Common fiscal) [South Sotho]; Juka, Rhiyani (these terms also applied to Common fiscal) [Tsonga]; Kleine klapekster [Dutch]; Pie-grièche à poitrine rose [French]; Schwarzstirnwürger [German]; Picanço-pequeno [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Laniidae

Lanius minor (Lesser grey shrike)  Lanius minor (Lesser grey shrike) 

Lesser grey shrike. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

Lesser grey shrike, Polokwane Game Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Its breeding grounds stretch across Eurasia, from Spain to Siberia and north-west China. The bulk of the population stay in southern Africa for the non-breeding season, when it is fairly common in Botswana, Namibia, Limpopo Province, Gauteng, North-West Province and the Northern Cape, with scattered populations in Zimbabwe. It generally favours open habitats with scattered trees, especially Acacia savanna but also stunted mopane woodland as well as mixed cluster-leaf (Terminalia) and apple-leaf (Philenoptera) woodland in the Kalahari.

Distribution of Lesser grey shrike in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations

It departs from its breeding grounds mainly during the second half of August, passing over the eastern Mediterranean around September and reaching the equator by early November. It eventually arrives in southern Africa around late November-December, staying until March-April the following year.


It almost exclusively eats arthropods, especially beetles but also termites and butterflies. It usually hunts from perch, pouncing on its prey before flying back to feed. It strangely never hover-hawks in its non-breeding grounds, possibly because of its moulting flight feathers.


Not threatened, in fact well represented in protected areas, with an estimated global population of 5-10 million.



  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 



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