Seeing a great grey shrike on top of a bush or small tree is the highlight of a day’s bird watching in late autumn and winter. These pearly-grey and white predators with black bandit-masks have hooked bills, which they use to catch and dispatch insects and even other birds and small mammals.
However, there is a dark side to this bird. Often they will impale their prey on a thorn to eat later and this habit of hanging up carcases has earned them the name of ‘butcher birds’.
They are scarce birds in the British Isles and usually around 50-100 birds spend the winter here. So, you can imagine the excitement when one was spotted and successfully ‘shot’ in January 1823 in Blantyre.
The purpose was for study and preserving. It was described as a fine specimen with 6 of the secondary feathers under the wing, being red in colour.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2018
Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said,
Steven Miller As mentioned by Donald Pleasence in “The Great Escape “