Common Fiscal (Fiscal Shrike) (Afr: Laksman)
A familiar black and white bird which perches prominently in
more open areas. Size 21-23cm - slightly smaller than a Laughing
Dove, but with a longish tail.
The Common Fiscal is a black and
white Shrike. The bill is short, straight and stout with a sharp
hook at the end of the upper mandible. The bill is black and the
legs and feet are black.
The upperparts are mostly jet-black, with a conspicuous white
wing-stripe. The black extends to below the eye and there may be an
eye-stripe, in western birds. The underparts are white, and the
Common Fiscal has a fairly long, white-edged tail.
The Common Fiscal is a very common bird of open grassland, with
scattered bushes or trees. It is found in any open veldt where there
are perches. It is generally scarce in woodland or dense bushveld.
It is usually seen singly, perched on a prominent perch, such as a
telephone pole, tree or fence post.
It subsists mainly on insects, also takes small birds, rodents,
reptiles and amphibians. Has a habit of impaling prey on sharp thorn
or barbed wire, returning to feed on it later.
The call is usually a phrase of harsh grating and piping notes,
which is repeated again and again, but it may sing in a more varied
way, often including mimicry of other bird calls in its own song.
It nests all year round, but mainly from August to December, and the
nest is a bulky, thick walled bowl of grass, twigs., leafy herbs,
lined with soft plant material. It is placed in the fork of a tree
or bush, often a thorny acacia.
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