The Magpie Shrike
(Urolestes melanoleucus), also known as the African Long-tailed Shrike, is a species of bird in the Laniidae family
Magpie Shrikes are large songbirds, around 43cm, but over half of that is made up by its tail.
They have black and white plumage.
They have extended black tails with white tips and wings.
The males and females are similar in size and plumage, although the female has white flanks that are lackng on the male.
The bill is black; eyes brown and legs and feet are black.
The magpie shrike can be heard singing all day long. They can often be heard singing songs back and forth to each other.
They are sociable creatures and are famous for their duets during breeding.
Breeding pairs are partners for life.
Preferring open woodland with plenty of acacia trees, the Magpie shrike is a fairly gregarious bird and is most commonly found in small groups of up to a dozen birds.
They will often perch in a conspicuous spot and call loudly.
They tend to feed on the ground, mainly on insects, small reptiles and even on mice and small birds. They will also hunt from a perch and hawk insects from the air.
They breed between March and July. The birds will hatch between three to five eggs during a breeding season. The chicks are cared for by both parents for approximately 28 days in the nest. The young birds remain in the breeding territory for up to a year in order to help parents raise their young.
Lifespan : 2.5 years
The scientific name for the Magpie shrike is Corvinella melanoleuca; Corvinella from the Latin for “a small crow” and melanoleuca from the Greek for “black and white”. Thus we have a small crow that is black and white. Well, the black and white is accurate, but I wouldn’t have thought it looked remotely like a small crow.