[order] Passeriformes | [family] Laniidae | [latin] Lanius nubicus | [UK] Masked Shrike | [FR] Pie-grièche masquée | [DE] Maskenwürger | [ES] Alcaudón enmascarado | [IT] Averla mascherata | [NL] Maskerklauwier

Maskerklauwier determination

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Small rather slim shrike, with proportionately longest and slimmest tail of west Palearctic Lannuse and much less bold behaviour than other species. Male essentially black and white, with white forehead ane supercilium and pale rufous body-sides. Female and immature less distinctive but show characteristic head and scapular markings and unusual rust-buff scales on back and wing-coverts. Sexes dissimilar, little seasonal variation.

Breeds in west Palearctic in lower middle latitudes, mostly in Mediterranean warm zone and in hilly terrain, often less open and with higher tree cover than habitats favoured by most Lanius. Found in almost any kind of wooded country, in more open glades of forest and where there are isolated big trees in the open, as well as in high scrub, olive groves, and gardens. Nests in planes and cypresses.

Lanius nubicus is a summer visitor to south-eastern Europe, which constitutes >50% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is relatively small (<100,000 pairs), and underwent a large decline between 1970-1990. Although populations in Cyprus, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were stable or increased during 1990-2000, the species declined in Greece and its Turkish stronghold, and underwent a moderate decline (>10%) overall.

Insects, mainly grasshoppers, and beetles, lizards, and small passerine birds, notably and perhaps exclusively exhausted migrants. Hunts from exposed perch on top of small tree or bush, or from cover on side of taller tree or in thick scrub. Drops or swoops on ground prey, often hovering briefly, either returning to perch, flying to another, or consuming prey on ground, or takes flying insects in rapid twisting aerial pursuit like flycatcher. also picks invertebrates from foliage.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 100,000-1,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 20,000-50,000 individuals (Harris and Franklin 2000). Global population trends have not been quantified; there is evidence of a population decline (Harris and Franklin 2000), but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Early April to mid June in Cyprus, mid April to end of May in Greece, end of April to mid May in Turkey. Nest site is slung below twigs at end of lateral branch, moulded on top of broad branch, in fork, or against trunk of tree, or in dense, often thorny bush. Nest is carefully constructed, compact, often inconspicuous structure of rootlets, bark strips, pine needles, plant down, plant stems, lichen, moss, cloth, string, cardboard, lined with sheep's wool, hair, rootlets,fine stems, etc. Clutch size 4-7 eggs, incubation 14-15 days, by female only.

All populations migratory, wintering in sub-Saharan Africa, mainly south to c. 10°N in Sudan and Ethiopia, west to eastern Mali. Passage mainly through east Mediterranean at both seasons. Marked passage though Cyprus but exceptional in Crete. Autumn passage in Mediterranean area mainly mid-August to mid-September, reaching winter quarters August-September. Leaves winter quarters usually from February onwards, passing through Mediterranean area mainly mid-March to April and arriving on breeding grounds mainly mid-April to mid-May.