Brown Shrike – Accepted

1. 20–22 Sep 1984


Southeast Farallon I. SF



Figs. 250, 360, ph., CAS 71593 (feathers), AB 39:99, Dunn (1988), date span corrected by Richardson et al. (2003)

2. 28 Nov 1986–26 Apr 1987


Olema MRN



Fig. 251, ph.








Figures 250, 251 (above, below). California’s two records of the Brown Shrike join five from Alaska (four in fall, one in spring) and a fall record from Nova Scotia as the only ones for North America. The state’s first pertains to the first-fall bird on the left (note the barred scapulars), captured on 20 September 1984 at Southeast Farallon Island (1984-261; Phil Henderson). Just two years later, on 28 November 1986, another first-fall bird materialized, this one in Olema, Marin County. The second bird was studied and admired by hundreds over the course of a five-month stay and was immortalized in this 19 January 1987 sketch (1987-020; Tim Manolis).


Figure 251.



Figure 360. California’s first Brown Shrike, a first-fall bird present 20–22 September 1984 at Southeast Farallon Island. This photo was taken on the day of its discovery (1984-261; Phil Henderson).







Brown Shrike

BROWN SHRIKE Lanius cristatus Linnaeus, 1758

Accepted: 2 (100%)

Treated in Appendix H: no

Not accepted: 0

CBRC review: all records

Not submitted/reviewed: 0

Large color images: see Figures

This shrike breeds from central Siberia south to Mongolia, Manchuria, and Japan. Four subspecies are recognized (Vaurie 1959). The most northeasterly, L. c. cristatus, is the subspecies most likely to reach California (Dunn 1988). The species’ wintering grounds extend from India east to eastern China and south to southeastern Asia and the East Indies; this bird occurs as a vagrant in western Europe. North American records include two in spring and three in fall from Alaska (ABA 2002) and the late fall occurrence of an adult in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Foxall and McLaren 1998). The only New World specimen refers to a first-year bird collected on 10 October 1978 on Shemya Island, Alaska (UAM 3696). Gibson (1981) originally assigned the specimen to L. c. lucionensis of Korea and northern China, but now (in litt.) regards the geographically proximate cristatus as “much more likely.”

California’s first Brown Shrike was a first-fall bird banded, measured, and photographed on 20 September 1984 on Southeast Farallon Island (Figures 250, 360). Several feathers were collected (CAS 71593) and the bird remained for a total of three days. Two years later, on 28 November 1986, visiting Oregonians discovered a first-year Brown Shrike at Olema in Marin County that would remain until 26 April 1987 (Figure 251). Several Eurasian shrike species closely resemble the Brown Shrike, and Harris et al. (1989:199) described the process by which they were ruled out for the Olema bird.

Determining the subspecies of California’s two first-year birds was difficult, and such a determination may not be possible for birds of this age class prior to the prealternate molt (Medway 1970, Phillips 1986). Before departing in spring the Olema bird completed this molt, enabling its identification as cristatus.