Red-Backed Butcher Bird

 
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First record of Japanese Red-Backed Butcher-Bird or Shrike
Lanius cristatus superciliosus  from India
Sumit K Sen & Sujan Chatterjee

 

 

 Sujan Chatterjee


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 species.

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.


References

  • 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: New Holland

  • 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

 

   
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