Bay-backed shrike

Portrait of Bay-backed shrike posing on a weathered perch in the grasslands of Tal Chhapar, Rajasthan, India.

About the Bay-backed shrike

The Bay-backed shrike (Lanius vittatus) is a small brightly coloured shrike in the family (Laniidae). They are often confused with the Long-tailed shrike due to their similar colouration. They are resident breeders in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and India, and have recently been recorded from Sri Lanka. They are typically found in open areas with prominent perches that offer vantage points for shrikes to spot their prey. A unique trait among passerines, shrikes are carnivorous and feed on reptiles, amphibians, rodents and small birds. Prey may be impaled upon a sharp point, such as a thorn and once secured they can be ripped apart with the strong hooked bill.

You can find out more about the Bay-backed Shrike here.


Tal Chhapar Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Northwestern Rajasthan on the fringe of the Great Indian Desert; The Thar. This small grassland habitat is surrounded by sparse scrub and dry dusty plains peppered with salt pans. Originally a hunting ground for the Maharaja of Bikaner it was declared a sanctuary in the 1960s.

India’s Grasslands are home to some of its most endangered species, many of which are endemic. This important habitat now only exists in a handful of places in India and is sadly becoming increasingly scarce.

This stunning grassland wasn’t always the paradise seen today. After decades of neglect and encroachment by the nearby salt production the sanctuary was in a sorry state. Thanks to efforts coordinated by Mr. S.S.Poonia, the range forest officer at Tal Chhapar, over the years the grassland has been transformed. After gradually stripping away the invasive plant; Prosopis juliflora a variety of grasses were planted such as Mothiya grass, a favourite of the blackbucks, which derives its name from ‘moti’ meaning pearl, as its sweet seeds look like pearls. The final result is vast swathes of pristine grassland bustling with animal life. 

Tal Chhapar Wildlife Sanctuary

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Portrait of Bay-backed shrike posing on a weathered perch in the grasslands of Tal Chhapar, Rajasthan, India.


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