Appearance Magpie Shrikes are small birds, 6" (15cm) long, but extended by a further 11" (28cm) due to their extremely long tail feathers. The Magpie Shrike is mostly blackish-brown, with a black mantle and featuring a white patch on its scapulars (feathers between wings and back), some on its secondaries (innermost flight feathers of the wing) and a white spot on its primary bases (major flight feathers in the wing). Its rump is a grey/white. The bill, legs and feet are black. Eyes are dark brown. The female has white patches on its flanks.
Habits Magpie Shrikes are seen in small groups, or alone. Cup-shaped nests of small twigs, lined with grass are usually built in Acacia trees by both parents. An average of four eggs are laid and incubated by the female for approximately 18 days. The male and also juvenile members of the previous brood feed the female during incubation and the chicks after hatching - known as cooperative breeding. The chicks leave the nest after approximately 3 weeks, but are reliant on the parents for food for up to 2 months after, but subsequently assist with the next clutch of chicks.
Diet Magpie Shrikes mainly eat insects, also taking mice, small lizards and fruits - sometimes meat, either fresh or rotting. Often seen perched prominently, searching the ground for prey before swooping down. Occasionally they walk around, disturbing insects or glean insects from tree branches and leaves.
Resident Magpie Shrikes are uncommonly seen in Kenya's Mara GR, favouring bushed and wooded areas of savanna.
Extra Magpie Shrike Facts Magpie Shrikes long tails makes them unmistakable and the tail is 'flirted' as they call. They are the only Shrike not to be white below.
Photographs Photographed in Kenya's Olare Orok Conservancy, bordering Mara GR.