Brown Shrike

Brown Shrike

Sai Kung
Swarovski 80 HD STS, 30x-eyepiece, Ricoh GXR, 24-72mm Zoom Lens
IS0 100








I'm afraid but to conclude that the Brown Shrike you've photoed is an escape/released bird.
The tail and primary tips are badly damaged and must have lost some of its retrices. See
also its back, wing coverts and breast feathers, all ruffled to an amazing degree!

I do hope its instinct or fellow birds might help him back to its home and survive!

S L Tai


I have no idea but I incline not to agree with you on that for the following reasons:
a) the bird was probably renewing the feather as it persistently picked at its plumage while perching;
b) I got the shots taken in Lion Nature Education Centre;
c) Some of the passers-by said this shrike had been there for over a month;
d) This shrike was pretty skilled preying on insects, scavenging littered food and looking for earthworms;
e) It was not easily intimidated by passers-by in the park; and
f) I also saw the brown shrike frequenting LNEC last year around this time.


Dear Pete

Different Brown Shrikes might have been at the same location. If you're right, the bird then possibly
been unnaturally harassed.

Another possibility is that it has taken a 'stormy' and long bath that it subsequently gets such
a 'wet' and ruffled look.

Anyhow, Paul Leader may help to settle the case in question.

I'm a learner, a keen one and having been trying myself to be objective, though knowledge-wise sometimes
in want.

S L Tai


I can see Mr Tai's argument for this being an ex-captive bird. The plumage looks in very bad condition in this set of photos, including considerable damage to the tail and primaries. Some of the arguments put forward by Pete could also arguably support this - a long-staying individual which is not afraid of human disturbance.

Having said that, I assume that this is in fact the individual which has been present at sai Kung for most of the winter, and photographed regularly. See the photos in this post from November, and note the pattern of grey feathers on the forehead compared to the recent photos: ... &extra=page%3D1

If this is the same bird, I think it must be a wild individual, as the plumage condition is perfect on the earliest photos. It is currently in moult of the wings, tail and body (note the new inner primaries and inner tail feathers), presumably in preparation for migration. I have noticed moult in late winter on other overwintering Brown Shrikes, but don't remember it being this drastic! The apparently poor plumage condition may also be exaggerated by the bird being wet or perhaps also by it having survived an attack by a predator. Photos taken a couple of weeks ago show it starting to look scruffy: ... &extra=page%3D1

If this is indeed a wild bird, it is a good cautionary tale about determining the origin of an individual based only on one set of photos!



I'm glad you play the role of a wild/captive bird judge fairly.

I also noticed the tail feathers of some much shorter than fully grown, indicating
that they are growing. The spring time for a wintering bird also sprang to my mind having
the edge of moulting fully ready before its long journey to the north.

But the points raised by Pete that the bird is approachable, showing its naturally abilities
to prey on worms on the ground and pluming its own body are instinctive for all birds for the
latter two reasons, albeit wild or captive. They are defences easily taken up to be thrown back upon him!

This bird, in case it be the same photoed by quite a  number of other photographers is a fact
also known to me as one of them Joey Lam is my friend.

Anyhow, the Brown Shrike must be once wild and as a species naturally occurring in Hong Kong
is beyond dispute. I've never doubted or wanted to repudiated these facts. Therefore kindly
take my previous and present presentations as a suggestion and everybody will be happy to close this
particular forum with arguments on both sides duly weighted.

S L Tai