Naryn sands between Volga and Ural rivers.
© Askar Isabekov
The Lesser Grey Shrike is medium-sized bird with specific bill with hooked tip. On adult males the crown, mantle and uppertail are grey; the eye-mask is black and broad. The wings are black with quite large white speculum formed by the white bases of only primaries; the secondaries have narrow white terminal edges. The two central pairs of the tail feathers are black; the third and fourth pairs are black with white bases and tips; the fifth pair is white with dark shaft and spot on the inner web; other tail feathers are white with dark shafts. The throat, breast, flanks and undertail are white grayish-pink tinged especially intensive on the breast and flanks; underwings are off-white. The females are paler; the grey upperparts and the black on head, wings and tail have brownish tone; the pink tinge on flanks and breast are pale too. The bill and legs are black, eyes are brown. On juveniles in first plumage the crown and mantle are dirty-grey with scaly pattern forming by the brown narrow pre-terminal edges of the feathers. The mask starts not from forehead but from mouth-sides and faintly expresses on the lores. The flight feathers and wing coverts are with whitish-buddy terminal edges; the throat, breast and abdomen are off-white. In the end of summer this plumage is changed by the first autumn one when the juveniles increase to the adults' size. In this plumage the mottled upperparts feathers are changed onto plain brownish-grey ones. On this intermediate plumage the juveniles migrate to wintering. Sizes: males – wing 111-121, tail 91-111, females - wing 111-121, tail 94-103 mm. Weight 42,3-55,0 grams.
The Lesser Grey Shrike breeds on plains and low mountains almost throughout in Kazakhstan, excepting the tree-less countries (Mangyshlak, Ustyurt, Betpak-Dala, Tengiz-Kurgaldzhino depression and Northern Trans-Balkhash area) and Kazakh Upland. It also breeds in Southern Altai foothills and in Zaysan depression. During migration recorded in the breeding range; one observed 29 July 1973 in the highlands of Tien Shan mountains (Bolshoye Almatinskoye lake).
The Lesser Grey Shrike is common, in some places abundant, breeding migrant. It inhabits light deciduous forest with clearings, forest edge, groves, birch birch groves in steppe, isolated trees in open areas and forest-belts in plains and in mountains up to 2000-2200 m, where it also occurs in light juniper forest. During migration it rarely occurs above 3000 m. Appears in late spring. Singles and small groups of 3-5 birds arrive in late April to early May. Pairs form at breeding grounds and settle in territories 15 to 200 m one from another. Nests are is built in the trees (willow, poplar, elm, walnut, maple, apple tree, apricot, birch, false acacia, pine, juniper) 1.5-16 m off the ground, of fresh wormwood (but also with dry grass) and lined with vegetation fluff and hair. Both partners build the nest for 5 to 9 days. Clutches of 4-8 eggs found late in May to mid of June. Female incubates for 14-16 days while the male feeds her and replaces her incubating for short periods. Both parents feed juveniles, who fledge at 16-18 days old in late June to late August. Repeated breeding after loss of first nest is possible. Lesser Grey Shrike is less bird of prey than the other shrikes. It lives primarily on locust. Autumn migration begins early, short after juveniles become self-dependent. Last birds recorded in mid of August to mid of September.
"Птицы Казахстана" том 3. "Наука". Алма-Ата, 1970.
Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005.
Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999.
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