Common Fiscal (Lanius collaris)

The Common Fiscal is a small bird of 9" (23cm), with black crown, nape and mantle. A black 'predator' bill, with hook tip. The wings are also black, but with white patches at the base of the primaries & white scapulars, forming a V on the back. The tail is also black, with white edges. The female has a rufous patch, on each side of the flanks.

The Common Fiscal is seen boldly perched on branches or fences, in open bush areas, waiting for prey on the ground. They fly back to the perch and will often impale it on an Acacia thorn, if not all eaten. This behaviour has been studied, but it isn't certain if it's to store for future, mark out a territory or attract a mate. Certainly, it helps them rip the food apart, while it's held steady on the thorn.

The Common Fiscal eats large insects, like grasshoppers and beetles. Occasionally they take frogs, small mice and birds up to their own size.

The Common Fiscal is seen in areas above 1,400m, up to 3,000m, in the west of Kenya, as far up as Lake Turkana.

Extra Facts
The Common Fiscal was so named 'for their rapacity, which no revenue-officer could exceed'.

Photographed in Kenya's Nairobi National Park.

Categories & Keywords
Subcategory Detail:
Keywords:bird, common fiscal, fiscal, kenya, shrike, wildlife

Common Fiscal ~ on Thorn Tree

Common Fiscal, perched on a thorn tree in Kenya's Nairobi National Park

Common Fiscal ~ on Dead Branch

Common Fiscal, perched on a dead branch, looking down for food.

Common Fiscal ~ Perched

Immature Common Fiscal, perched amongst branches, looking out for food.

Common Fiscal ~ on Acacia Bush

Immature Common Fiscal, perched on top of an Acacia bush in Kenya's Nairobi National Park.

Common Fiscal ~ Looking Over Shoulder

Immature Common Fiscal, perched atop an Acacia bush, in Kenya's Nairobi National Park, looking over its shoulder.

Common Fiscal ~ Leaning Forward

Common Fiscal, perched on a twig, leaning forward to swoop down and collect food from the ground.

Common Fiscal ~ on Sprouting Branch

Immature Common Fiscal, perched on a sprouting branch in Kenya's Narobi National Park.

Common Fiscal ~ Immature

Immature Common Fiscal, perched on top of an Acacia bush, peeking slightly over his shoulder.

Common Fiscal ~ White Feathered

A Common Fiscal, perched amongst thorns, showing off the white feathers of its underside.