Magpie Shrike..

Magpie Shrike (Urolestes melanoleucus), also known as the African Long-tailed Shrike.

A truly beautiful bird to photograph, when you can capture them sitting searching for food on the ground or in the surrounding trees. It feeds mainly on insects, caterpillars, ants and beetles, which it will sit quietly on a branch, or on the ground and watch for.

It is also unusual in that the breeding pair are normally assisted by the last brood to feed the new born. I think it is called facultative cooperative breeding. However the male and female construct the nest and the younger birds have never been observed aiding in the construction. Typical of young never want to clean up around the house, however the aid in feeding almost guarantees the successful raising of the young.

The nest consists of an untidy cup made of twigs, grass stems and roots, typically placed in the upper branches of an Acacia tree.

The female lays 2-6 eggs, which are incubated by her for about 16 days, the male and group members providing her with food. The chicks are cared for both by the parents and group members, they leave the nest after about 15-19 days. Allowing the parents to lay a second set of eggs per breeding season, and the  fledglings help to rear the next brood. Now that’s family co-operation… I only have two photos of this bird and here they are…

Thur 21-07-2011 233

game res 18-07-2011 178

30 thoughts on “Magpie Shrike..

  1. Another clever strategy to amaze me. I have never come across such a family type of cooperation in birds before in rearing young.

    • Nature has a way of reminding us of just how clever some birds are… this is not the only specie known for these type habits… but extremely interesting…

  2. Magpie Shrike a stunner. How interesting about the facultative cooperative breeding ~ never have heard of this phenomenon! Your posts always teach so much bulldog ~ and never fail to entertain the senses too! Thank you ~ and sending Love ~R

    • Thanks Robyn… glad you enjoyed… they also attack you in a group if you try to rob the nest of a single egg… I discovered this when as a youngster my hobby was collecting birds eggs… I couldn’t believe so many birds where interested or involved in one nest… this is where I learnt about the aid the youngsters give… but it is a beautiful bird and difficult to capture on camera… I only have the two photos…sending love to that side too…

  3. Un uccello molto elegante, non so se si possa paragonare alla Gazza ladra che c’è in Italia, che io non riesco mai a fotografare perché velocissima a prendere il volo…
    Ciao, Pat

  4. Wow excellent photos and the commentary is perfect. I enjoy learning little tid-bits about the creatures you feature. Loved the bit about the young never wanting to clean up around the house. Big smile!

    P.S. Love the Rhino photo in your header!

    • Thank you so much for the kind comments and on your blog.. it is appreciated… I love the birds and finding out about their habits and tit-bits… as a youngster I collected birds eggs… recorded where I’d found the nest how high in the tree, number of eggs etc… this little bird I found a nest in the Matopoes in Rhodesia, when I climbed the tree I was attacked by five or six of them and couldn’t understand why so many with only one nest… that’s when I discovered the nesting habit and how the previous birth assist the parents… found it extremely interesting… they nearly had me out of the tree….

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