This bird breeds in most of Europe and western Asia and winters in tropical Africa. Its range is contracting, and it is now probably extinct in Great Britain as a breeding bird, although it is frequent on migration. It is named as a protected bird in Britain under a Biodiversity Action Plan. It breeds in open cultivated country with hawthorn and dog rose.
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This 16-18 cm (approx. 6.3-7.1 inches) long migratory bird eats large insects, small birds, frogs, rodents and lizards. Like other shrikes it hunts from prominent perches, and impales corpses on thorns or barbed wire as a larder.