Amur Red-Backed Butcher-Bird or Shrike
Lanius cristatus confusus Shtegman
Habitational status: Breeder and migrant. In Maritime Territory appears in first third of May; begins to depart in late August, with departures continuing throughout September but concluding in early October.
Biotope: Rather variable, but similar to Siberian form: river floodplains, edges of broadleaf, mixed and coniferous forests. burns and fellings, brushwood in fringes of messy bogs (in northern Amur area).
Numerical status: Not rare but not abundant, distribution somewhat sporadic.
Breeding: According to Taczanowski (1891), nests constructed in bushes, not high above ground, to 150 cm; in late June contain clutches (presumably incubated?), juveniles leave nest in late July. In Sudzukhe District, breeding period occurs in late May and early June. On 26 July 1944 occurred nest with 5 nestlings of various ages (start of incubation consequently before conclusion of egg deposition; Belopolskii, 1950). According to Vorob'ev, in vicinity of Vladivostok, 17 June 1949, find in apple tree 240cm above ground with 6 well incubated eggs; same place onJune 23 nestlings. According to this author, in Amur area and Maritime Territory clutches contained 6-7 eggs. Nest sometimes lies directly on ground among grass, In Manchuria, according to Meise (1934), clutches apparently 3-4 or up to 6, variably colored, with reddish around. Egg sizes (12) 20.5 - 24.2 X 16.0-17.6, av. 22.14 X 17.07 mm. Nestling in Manchuria obtained on June 19, juveniles molting into first molt (replacement of small feathering) between July 11 and August 6. Undersized 27 fliers from Maritime Territory preserved in Zoological Museum of Moscow University from various dates between July 1 and August 2. This, like data of Meise, indicates that replacement clutches probably replace lost eggs.
Molt: In general as in European form, with differences in dates in association with breeding. Details unclarified. Partial juvenile molt in Maritime Territory begins in last third of July and concludes on various dates in August.
Diet: Judging from labels on museum specimens. primarily insects.
Description: Size and structure: Belongs to eastern group of butcher- birds, with relatively powerful bill with large hook on upper mandible; tail more rounded (difference in length of middle and extreme rectrices usually about 20mm or somewhat more), rectrices narrow. Wing structure as in Siberian forms. Wing length of males (25) 83.5 - 91.5, females (20) 82 - 87, av. respectively 86.5 and 84.1 mm; weight of male (1) 33 g.
Coloration: Male very similar to L. c. cristatus, but somewhat paler and grayer above; white color on forehead more distributed, with grayish tinge. Female somewhat paler above than Siberian form(L. c. cristatus). Juvenal plumage pale and grayish, undulant barring above grayish brown and inconspicuous.