Magpie Shrike

Urolestes melanoleucus

The unmistakable Magpie, or Long-tailed, Shrike inhabits open savanna habitats, typically where thorn trees dominate, and feed on invertebrates, lizards, small mammals, carrion and occasionally fruit. They generally avoid man-altered habitats and human habitation.

Adult Magpie Shrikes measure up to 50cm long and weigh around 85g.

Magpie Shrikes are gregarious and territorial, with groups numbering 3-12 occupying home ranges of up to 70 hectares in size (though much smaller while nesting). Their nesting season spans spring and summer. The dominant pair is monogamous and usually assisted by other group members in raising the chicks.

In South Africa, Magpie Shrikes are found mainly in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, extending marginally into Gauteng, Free State, Northwest, Northern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal. They also occur patchily through the rest of southern and eastern Africa. The IUCN indicates that the overall population of the Magpie Shrike is decreasing, possibly due to habitat loss, but still lists it as being of least concern at the moment.

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29 thoughts on “Magpie Shrike

  1. naturebackin

    Thanks for making me aware of the newer name. I also prefer the older name as ‘magpie’ makes me think of the magpie in Europe, which (apart from the black-and-white) is completely different, as you say.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      We’ve ticked them at a few other bushveld reserves, Anne – most in North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, and then in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park as well – but yes, if you really want to see them for sure then Kruger is the place to go, especially in the open savannas between Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge!

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks, John! Actually your Eurasian Magpie, which is from the crow family, is much heavier in build than this species, which belongs in the shrike family. For me their alternative (older) name, Longtailed Shrike, is more appropriate.

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      1. scrapydo2.wordpress.com

        Het so vermoed. Die laksman is nie die helfte so groot nie alhoewel sy kleure nogal aan Magpies herinner. Magpies lyk egter gladnie dieselfde nie. Gelukkig het ek nog nie met hul woeste aard in aanraking gekom nie. Hul kyk bv eerder vir Trompie uit as vir my.

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