Iberian Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis


Justification of Red List category
This species has been uplisted to Vulnerable as it is undergoing rapid population declines. The main driver of the decline is thought to be a combination of agricultural intensification and increased pesticide and herbicide use, and the cessation of sheep grazing leading to the invasion of scrub.

Population justification
Population estimates from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International 2015) total 372,150-656,150 pairs, or 744,300-1,312,300 mature individuals. rounded here to 744,000-1,310,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Data from the Spanish national bird monitoring schemes shows a decline of c. 60% in Spain between 1998-2016, however much of that decline took place before 2010, since when the species’ population has fluctuated but remained broadly stable (SEO/BirdLife 2017). Over the last three generations (12 years; 2005-2016), the graph suggests a decline from c.70% of 1998 levels to c.40% of 1998 levels, which equates to a decline of c. 43% over three generations. As Spain holds c. 95% of the global population, the Spanish trend effectively describes the global trend.

Distribution and population

The species is resident in southern France and the Iberian Peninsula, with some 95% of the global population in Spain, where it has recently undergone rapid declines across much of the range. At the northern edge of the range it is now extinct in the Basque Country (still breeding in the 1980s but no records since 2006; J. M. Fernández-García in litt. 2017). In Catalonia the mean annual trend for the period 2002-2016 was -7%, which extrapolates to a 58% decline in 12 years (D. Giralt in litt. 2017).


It inhabits fairly open country dotted with thorny bushes in dry and warm, sunny lowlands to 1,200m. Suitable habitat includes cereal-growing land with groves, hedgerows, bushes, meadows, vineyards, orchards, pasture and evergreen oak (Quercus) forests (Yosef and International Shrike Working Group 2017).


The main threats are likely to be agricultural intensification, with increased use of pesticides and herbicides reducing prey availability, and the removal of hedges and trees reducing the number of available hunting perches and nest sites and reducing food availability. However the cessation of agricultural activity can also have negative impacts, and the removal of sheep grazing may lead to invasion of scrub, leaving habitat unsuitable for the species (Yosef and International Shrike Working Group 2017).

Conservation actions

Conservation and research actions underway
No targeted actions are known.

Conservation and research actions needed
Encourage the maintenance of low-intensity farming practices and a reduction in the use of agro-chemicals.


Text account compilers
Shutes, S., Derhé, M., Butchart, S., Symes, A., Westrip, J.

Fernández-García, J., Giralt, D., del Moral, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Lanius meridionalis. Downloaded from on 29/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 29/02/2024.