Great grey shrike in the Netherlands


This is a great grey shrike video from Britain.

And this is the sequel.

Yesterday night in Hilversum, there were lectures about local birds. And about birds in Mount Hagen and elsewhere in Papua New Guinea.

And, by Paul van der Poel, about the great grey shrike; especially in the Tafelberg heath reserve, between Huizen and Laren, not far from Hilversum.

Great grey shrikes used to breed in heathland in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, they have become extinct as breeding birds. However, East European migrants still arrive every autumn to winter; including at the Tafelberg reserve. They are songbirds, but have a lifestyle reminiscent of birds of prey. However, they do not have bird of prey talons, so like other shrikes, they often impale their prey on thorns.

What do great grey shrikes eat?

They arrive at Tafelberg in October, last year in the 12-13 October night. Their staple food then are minotaur beetles. However, as it gets colder and there may be snow, these beetles and other large insects, like dragonflies and buff-tailed bumblebees, eaten by shrikes as well, will tend to hide (though they may come out on warmer days in winter). The shrikes then will have to find other sources of food.

About the same as for beetles goes for lizards. As far as we know, the only lizard species at Tafelberg is the common lizard; very probably no sand lizards. The common lizards also tend to hide as winter comes.

Mice and shrews are still present in winter. Among the prey species of Tafelberg shrikes are field vole, bank vole, Eurasian pygmy shrew, and common shrew. However, if after snow mice go underground, great grey shrikes will have to eat birds.

They can catch birds up to the size of a redwing. Among the species they catch at Tafelberg are chaffinch, brambling, meadow pipit, robin, short-toed treecreeper, skylark, wren, great tit and long-tailed tit.

Great grey shrike predation of common lizards at Tafelberg: here. And here.

Great grey shrikes in Libya: here.

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