The Long-tailed Shrike or the Rufous-backed Shrike (Lanius schach) is a
of the bird family Laniidae, the shrikes. The eastern or Himalayan race,
L. s. tricolor, is sometimes called the Black-headed Shrike.
It is a common resident breeder throughout the Indomalayan ecozone from
Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indian peninsula except
eastern states, to New Guinea, found on bushes in scrubby areas and
cultivation. Winter visitor to southern areas such as southeast India
and Sri Lanka.
It has some resemblances to the grey shrikes, such as the Southern
Grey Shrike, Lanius meridionalis, sharing the pearl grey head and mantle
and black mask extending from the forehead, through the eye, to the ear
coverts. An eastern race found in Bhutan to Arunachal Pradesh, sometimes
called the Himalayan L. s. tricolor, has a black head extending from the
eye mask to the whole crown and nape.
It is small for a grey shrike, but has a very long tail with rufous
edges. The underparts are white, but with rufous flanks. The bill and
legs are nearly black.
This bird has a characteristic upright "shrike" attitude perched on a
bush, from which it sallies after lizards, large insects, small birds
Prey may be impaled upon a sharp point, such as a thorn. Thus secured
they can be ripped with the strong hooked bill, but its feet are not
suited for tearing.
Its flight is undulating, but its dash is straight and determined.