Appearance Isabelline Shrikes are small, 7" (18cm) birds. The male is pale brown above, with a rufous-brown crown, mantle, rump and tail. His underparts are off-white. His black mask has a slim border of white above and travels round to beginning of hindneck. Bill is horn-coloured in both sexes. The female is similar to the female Red-backed Shrike, but her tail is rufous above and below and also less barring on the breast, separating it from that species. She has a brown face and upperparts, with greyish-brown head and rump and white underparts, with barring on breast sides. Her mask is shorter than the male's and brown, extending from just in front of the eye, not as far as the hindneck (unlike Red-backed).
Habits Isabelline Shrikes are often seen perched conspicuously in open areas, from where they pounce on their prey. They are territorial birds and will see smaller birds off. Usually seen singly or in pairs.
Diet Isabelline Shrikes eat large insects, in particular grasshoppers and also small birds, rodents and lizards. Like other shrikes, it hunts from a prominent perch, pouncing on its prey and sometimes impales it on thorns or barbed wire, using it as a larder or territorial marker.
Resident Isabelline Shrikes are a palaeartic migrant, seen in Kenya from November to end-March. Mainly seen east of Great Rift Valley, below 1,700 metres and particularly common in Tsavo area. Not seen in far east of Kenya. They prefer Acacia areas, due to the thorns for impaling their prey.
Extra Isabelline Shrike Facts Isabelline Shrikes got their name from the colour isabelline, a sand colour. The Isabelline Shrike's call is a soft warble.
Photographs Photographed at Kenya's Nairobi National Park.