Grey-backed Fiscal (Lanius excubitoroides
Grey-backed Fiscals are small, 10" (25cm) birds, although large by Shrike standards. A broad black face mask goes from one side of the neck to the other, covering the eyes and from forehead to bill. Black wings have broad white 'stripes' in them, seen on flying. A very long, broad black tail is half white underneath and with white panels on top. The grey mantle and back are diagnostic, separating it from the Common Fiscal
Grey-backed Fiscals are gregarious Shrikes, often seen in sociable groups, perched on exposed branches and sometimes on the ground, wagging their tails and emitting squabbling calls. Diet
Grey-backed Fiscals, with their hook-tipped bills are predatory birds. Perched out in open places, they pounce on their prey with strong feet and sharp claws. Their preference is for large insects like grasshoppers and beetles, as well as lizards frogs and mice. They are also known to take fledgling birds. Having caught their prey, they fly to Acacia bushes or trees, impale their victim on a thorn, then rip it apart. Smaller prey is sometimes eaten straight away. Larger prey can be left on the thorn, using it as a larder when food is scarce. Resident
Grey-backed Fiscals are found in western Kenya, in a semi-circle around Lake Victoria, north to Mt Elgon, east to Lake Baringo and south to Nguruman. Mostly seen in open acacia woods near water, but also around cultivated areas. Extra Grey-backed Fiscal Facts
Grey-backed Fiscals, amongst the other true Shrikes, are known as 'Butcherbirds', due to impaling their prey and leaving it on a thorn as a larder. Not to be confused with the real 'Butcherbirds' of Australia.
Fiscals were scientifically named after one of the Latin names for Butcher (Lanius
Photographed at Kenya's Olare Orok Conservancy.