Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The European population is estimated at 1,930,000-3,110,000 pairs, which equates to 3,870,000-6,230,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms 65% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 5,950,000-9,590,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
This population is estimated to be declining following widespread declines late in the 20th century owing to an array of factors (Harris and Franklin 2000). In Europe, trends between 1998 and 2013 show that populations have undergone a moderate decline (EBCC 2015).


This species requires shrub-like or arboreal cover, open ground offering rich supply of large insects, and perches with commanding view of area. It is commonly found in semi-open areas with bushes and well-spaced trees, such as open woodland, old orchards, olive (Olea) groves, gardens, and parks or hedgerows with large thorny bushes; in Greece it prefers open pine (Pinus) forest. In many areas it occurs in cultivated country with trees; and in the north of its range it is a typical bird of old traditional orchards, particularly when sheep or cattle present (Yosef et al. 2013). Egg-laying occurs from the end of April through to July. The nest site is chosen by the male and both sexes build the nest (Lefranc and Worfolk 1997), which is a compact open cup made from twigs and roots and other plant material, lined with rootlets, hair, wool, moss, lichen and spider web. It is generally placed on a lateral branch of a tree, often fruit tree or oak, pine or poplar or in the Mediterranean area, in low dense brush. Clutches are four to eight eggs (Yosef et al. 2013). It feeds principally on insects but other invertebrates, voles, mice, lizards, frogs and occasionally plant material such as berries are also taken (Lefranc and Worfolk 1997). The species is migratory, wintering in sub-Saharan Africa, north of the equator and in small numbers in southern Arabia (Yosef et al. 2013).


Loss and degradation of habitat through agricultural intensification, afforestation, and large fires are the main threats to this species (Yosef et al. 2013). The abandonment of traditional charcoal-making, the canalization of rivers and heavy use of herbicides and insecticides are also threats (Tucker and Heath 1994). Long-term climatic changes resulting in wetter springs have caused the range of the species to contract southwards (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997). It is hunted around ponds in summer and on migration in Italy. In addition, drought in the Sahel and changes to agricultural practices in its wintering grounds may lead to long term population declines (Tucker and Heath 1994).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. The species is legally protected in most countries; in some listed as highly endangered, in others regarded as vulnerable or endangered on national Red Lists (Yosef et al. 2013)

Conservation Actions Proposed
Traditional management of pastoral woodland (Yosef et al. 2013) and livestock-rearing (Tucker and Heath 1994), old orchards and Mediterranean scrub and the prevention of hunting would benefit this species (Yosef et al. 2013). The use of herbicides and insecticides should be controlled, soil-rotation practices used and unploughed field margins with boundaries of trees, shrubs and herbaceous vegetation should be maintained. In addition the diversification of monoculture crops and the maintenance of woodland at roadsides in rural areas and in irrigated cereal cultivation would benefit the species. Restrictions on hunting should be enforced (Tucker and Heath 1994).


Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Wheatley, H., Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Lanius senator. Downloaded from on 25/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/06/2022.