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Southern Fiscal - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Mybs
Near Stellenbosch, South Africa, 4 April 2005
Lanius collaris

Includes Uhehe Fiscal


L. 22 cm (8.5")


Photo © by Mybs
Near Stellenbosch, South Africa, 4 April 2005
  • Male - A pied, heavy-bodied, heavy-billed bird with white wing-stripe extending to the scapulars. Underparts grayish. Bill black with hooked tip.
  • Female - Similar to male but variably duller above and usually has some rufous on flanks.


Grayish brown with gray scaling below.

Similar Species

Northern Fiscal is similar but has cleaner white (less grayish) underparts and more white in its tail. Fiscals are conspicuous, often hunting from exposed perches. Black-backed Puffback and boubous are also black and white but are shy, skulking birds. Male Fiscal Flycatcher is shorter-tailed but lacks white scapular stripes and white outer rectrices.


Sub-Saharan Africa: northeast and south-central Tanzania and northwest Namibia, southwest Angola to Zimbabwe south to Cape Province (South Africa).


Formerly included in Common Fiscal together with Northern Fiscal.

Photo © by CollinBax
Cape Town, South Africa, 25 November 2010


This is a polytypic species with 5 subspecies divided into two groups[1]:

Uhehe Fiscal Group

  • L. c. marwitzi:
  • Highlands of north-eastern and south-central Tanzania
  • Conspicuous white supercilium; gray rump.

Southern Fiscal Group

Subspecies subcoronatus
Photo © by Ralph Timmermann
Auob Valley, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa, May 2013
  • L. c. collaris:
  • Southern Namibia, South Africa to southern Transvaal, Natal and western eSwatini
  • Blackish brown upperparts with gray gloss and black tail contrasting with white scapulars and white primary patch. Pale gray rump.
  • L. c. pyrrhostictus:
  • Zimbabwe to northern Transvaal, Natal and eastern Botswana
  • Upperparts slightly grayer, less black.
  • L. c. subcoronatus:
  • L. c. aridicolus:
  • Arid coastal north-western Namibia and south-western Angola
  • Paler and grayer upperparts with underparts purer silky white.

The subspecies marwitzi from Tanzania is sometimes considered a full species, Uhehe Fiscal.


Found in woodland and open savanna, shrubland with scattered trees. Common around cities, gardens, parks and along roadsides.


Compared to the rest of the shrikes, the Southern Fiscal is quite unusual in that a pair will hold a territory throughout the year. Most of the true shrike species (genus Lanius) from the northern hemisphere are migratory, breeding in the northern hemisphere and spending the austral summer in the southern hemisphere.


The Southern Fiscal is raptorial and feeds on a wide range of invertebrates, notably insects and small vertebrates. Vertebrates comprise a very small portion of its diet and most of its prey are those considered pests to the farmer or gardener. Its main hunting method is sit-and-wait foraging and about three-quarters of its day is spent on the lookout for prey. It also hovers before pouncing and chases and flushes prey out of undergrowth. When flying insects are numerous, such as when winged termites emerge from the ground, the bird will hunt on the wing and in very windy conditions when flight becomes impossible, it will glean prey from foliage.


Southern Fiscals breed mainly between the months of August and January, with most eggs being laid in September and October. They lay three or four pale, speckled eggs, which hatch about two and a half weeks after being laid, usually over a period of two days and often one or two eggs fail to hatch.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Fuchs, J., Crowe, T.M. & Bowie, R.C.K. (2011) Phylogeography of the Fscal Shrike (Lanius collaris): a novel pattern of genetic structure across the arid zones and savannas of Africa. J. Biogeogr. 38(11): 2210–2222.
  3. Lefranc, N and Worfolk, T. 1997. Shrikes: a guide to the shrikes of the world. Yale Univ. Press.
  4. Sinclair, I and P Ryan. 2003. Birds of Africa South of the Sahara. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0691118154
  5. Yosef, R. & International Shrike Working Group (2018). Common Fiscal (Lanius collaris). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/60490 on 20 June 2018).
  6. Avibase

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