Sexes alike. Pale grey from crown to middle of back; bright rufous from then on to the rump; black forehead, band through eye; white ‘mirror’ in black wings; whitish underbody, tinged pale rufous on lower breast and flanks. Mostly solitary; boldly defends feeding territory; keeps lookout from conspicuous perch; pounces onto ground on sighting prey; said to store surplus in ‘larder’, impaling prey on thorns; nicknamed Butcher-bird.
open country, cultivation, edges of forest, vicinity of habitation, gardens; prefers neighbourhood of water.
insects, lizards, small rodents, birds.
three races; undergo considerable seasonal movement; subcontinent, from about 2,700m in the Himalaya. The blackheaded subspecies L. s. tricolor, has a black head and small white patch on wings; breeds in the Himalaya east of Uttarakhand.
noisy; harsh mix of scolding notes, shrieks and yelps; excellent mimic; rather musical song of breeding male.