This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
The Red-backed Shrike (Lanius cullurio or collaris), a Dentiros-tral Insessorial bird of the family Lanidae (Butcher birds) and subfamily Laninae, arrives in Great Britain at the end of April or beginning of May, and takes flight therefrom in September. The male has the head, neck and shoulders grey, a black mark crossing the eye from the base of the bill; back and wing coverts of a chestnut hue, passing into reddish-grey at the tail; under-surafce of the chin, white, and under-parts of body tinted reddish; beak black. The length of the bird is 6 to 7 in. The Red-backed Shrike frequents coppices and hedgerows, flitting about, usually in pairs, the tops of bushes or low trees, the male impaling insects on the thorns of hedges to save the female trouble of capturing them. The nest is built on the top of a hedge or in a low tree, and is of large size, being composed of roots and grass, lined with hair. The eggs are five, white, tinted with blue, green, and sometimes red. The food of the Red-backed Shrikes consists of mice, beetles, particularly cockchafers, grasshoppers, dragon-flies, and other insects, also young of birds.
The Great Grey Shrike (Lanius execubitor) occasionally appears in this country during the winter. The length is from 9 to 10 in. It feeds upon mice, frogs, and insects. The shrikes take their prey much after the same manner as the flycatchers, by darting upon it from some place of concealment.