A couple of shrikes were observed by the
authors 25 Km south of Calcutta (altitude 5-10 m) on 14th May 2002, at 10h30. The
birds at first glance looked different from the Brown Shrikes
(L c cristatus)
usually seen in these parts.
The birds were seen sitting on a dry branch
near a paddy field. They were photographed for species/sub-species identification. The
bird displayed a broader whiter forehead, superciliaries and rufous upper and underparts
(unlike that of the nominate). Additionally, the Kolkata region hosts the nominate
cristatus which migrates back in early April. This out of season bird clearly looked
different and was not the nominate. However, the available literature on Indian Birds did
not throw up a match. A reference to Bill Harvey confirmed that this was not the nominate
As none of the Indian field guides matched
the description of this bird, it made identification difficult. The closest match
was with a bird described in Craig Robson's "Birds of South-East Asia" , Lanius cristatus superciliosus. However, the bird seemed
way out of it's home range. This bird breeds in Japan on Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu and
Tsushirna. In U.S.S.R throughout Sakhlin. It migrates to Eastern China and winters in
Fukein, Kwangtung and southern Yunnan in China, in Vietnam and other parts of Indochina
(most westerly find in Banguara in peninsular part of Siam), on Malay Peninsula, and on
the islands of Java, Sumatra, Ball, Flores and Sumba. (Dementev et al 1954).
Identification confirmation of ssp. superciliosus was sought from experts.
Positive identification was made by Norbert Lefranc
(author of "A guide to the Shrikes of the World " ) and
Craig Robson (author of "Birds of South-East Asia")
on the basis of the images supplied. This identification
establishes a new record for India and defines what could be the western most range record
for this Japanese bird.
Ali, S. & Ripley, S.D. (1987) Compact
edition of the handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan 2nd Edition.
Oxford University Press. Delhi
Dementev, G.P. & Gladkov, N.A.
(1954) Birds of Soviet Union: Vol VI. Moscow
Inskipp, T.,Lindsey, N., &
Duckworth, W. (1996) An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the Oriental Region. Oriental
Bird Club. UK
Robson, C (2000) A field guide to
the birds of South-East Asia.London:
Lefranc, N. A guide to the Shrikes
of the World
Grimett, R, Inskipp, C, &
Inskipp T. (1998) Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Oxford University Press. Delhi