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‘karelini’ type Shrike?

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  • ‘karelini’ type Shrike?

    Would anyone like to comment on this bird photographed in Saudi Arabia late yesterday (15th April 2012)?

    Is it a true ‘karelini’ type or a hybrid? I do not have many of the books mentioned regarding ‘karelini’ so am not 100% sure as to what they are meant to look like. From the info I do have, and from what I can remember from what I have read, it looks similar but not exactly the same as a typical karelini? Although its under-parts are strikingly white, it has a warm wash on the lower flanks although fits nicely this photo which is noted by Brian Small and Lars Svennson as fitting nicely Panov's idea of 'karelini'. The tail is also quite dark compared to what I am led to believe ‘karalini’ would look like? There was no obvious pale base to the primaries seen but the bird was only seen briefly in the field and a branch is covering some of the flight feathers in the photo. As a result of the above I am uncertain if tis is a good candidate for ‘karelini’ or of hybrid origin and would be very interested to hear what other people think.

    There have been a number of threads on hybrid shrikes in Kuwait over the past couple of years on Surfbirds such as here
    and here – where Alan (ARD) has given an excellent breakdown of the ‘Karelini’ type birds

    I have seen a number of birds that I regarded as hybrid Turkestan x Red-backed Shrike but so far none that looked like this one. I will be back out looking for this bird tonight so if I get anything more I will add it here.

    Attached Files

  • #2
    Sorry can't help with the id, just wanted to say what a corker what ever it is.

    Cheers, Neil.


    • #3

      As I am away tomorrow, I thought I would get the ball rolling before Alan steps in.

      In my eyes this is one of the variable hybrid phoenicuroides x collurio and I think my reasoning is based on the black central rectrix and tips to outers, plus the subtle cinnamon-brown wash forming on the scapulars. At Rashed's site recently I have noticed what I think are a couple of hybrids - see one here I think I am right in saying that Panov believes 'karelini' is a 'stereotyped hybrid' anyway.....(?)

      Compare the tail on your bird with this phoenicuroides -

      Brian S
      Last edited by Brian S; April 16th, 2012, 03:52 PM.


      • #4
        Hi Jem.

        I think Brian has summed it up well, with tail and scapular coloration. Check, among others, the bird in the first post here:



        • #5
          Panov does indeed regard 'karelini' as a hybrid form between phoenicuroides and collurio (but not necessarily stereotyped - see below re Panov’s Fig. 15.4). However, this view of a hybrid origin is not universally shared, with others regarding it as a valid form of phoenicuroides or even an as yet unrecognised subspecies in its own right. As Lars Svensson has pointed out in the earlier thread referred to by Jem (which provides essential background to this current thread): ‘Birds labelled 'karelini' go back to an illustration in Bogdanov 1881’. Both Bogdanov (1881) and, even earlier, Severtzov (1873) inferred that there were two types of phoenicuroides: a form preferring mountain habitats (phoenicuroides var. montana or var. ruficeps; and a form preferring the plains (phoenicuroides var. caniceps = phoenicuroides Karelini). However, in his ‘The True Shrikes of the World’ (Pensoft, 2011) and in earlier works, Panov maintains that 'karelini' as a subspecies or biological form is invalid and that it is of hybrid origin. He includes two plates to support this view. The first shows a graded series of specimens (Fig. 15.4), with the caption: ‘Series of male skins identified as 'karelini' …. a male at extreme left position in upper row looks like typical L. phoenicuroides, the one at extreme right in lower row is indistinguishable from the type specimen of 'karelini’.' The specimens all show dorsal surface only but, basically, are increasingly grey above through the series, especially on the crown. The individual which Panov states to be identical with the type specimen of 'karelini' (about which I’d like to know more) has decidedly grey mantle and crown but there is some rufous/russet sullying in the scapulars, as with Jem’s bird. The tail is predominantly rufous however (without the extensive black of Jem’s bird). The second of Panov’s plates (Fig. 17.1) shows various hybrid types, with the series notionally ‘bridging’ the plumages between phoenicuroides and collurio and with 'karelini' as one of the series.
          There is certainly a case which can be made for shrikes of the 'karelini' type being of hybrid origin. As Brian has pointed out, Jem’s bird has some features suggesting introgression, especially the extent and depth of ‘black’ in the tail (though note that undoubted phoenicuroides quite often has some darkening of the tips of the tail feathers). As noted in the earlier thread, my main reservation about this is that, as well as a grey crown, true 'karelini' types have a very grey mantle. The upperparts can come close in appearance to those of a ‘grey shrike’. Since collurio males have a rufous/russet mantle and ‘classic’ phoenicuroides males have a grey-brown mantle (with obvious warmth) I find it hard to understand how a hybrid form would have a much paler and purer grey mantle than either. With hybrids such an outcome may be possible, perhaps, but it is not something I would anticipate a priori.
          Thus, Jem’s bird would certainly fit into Panov’s series of 'karelini' types as would perhaps the example cited by Jan. No doubt some birds ascribed to 'karelini' are of hybrid origin - but perhaps phoenicuroides x collurio is not always the parentage. Whether all 'karelini' types (especially those with rather uniformly pale grey upperparts – as in Bogdanov’s illustration) are of hybrid origin remains unresolved in my opinion.

          Last edited by ARD; April 16th, 2012, 10:23 PM. Reason: Clarification


          • #6
            Originally posted by Brian S View Post

            ...... At Rashed's site recently I have noticed what I think are a couple of hybrids - see one here
            Brian S

            In the literature, the term 'karelini' is sometimes applied to any phoenicuroides type which has a 'greyer' crown i.e. lacks the contrasting rufous hue of classic phoenicuroides. Many of these birds still have a grey-brown hue to mantle, just as in classic phoenicuroides, or are just a tad paler and greyer. However, as Lars pointed out in the earlier thread, the term karelini must follow the type material, as illustrated by Bogdanov i.e. it applies correctly to those individuals with a very pale grey hue (french grey almost) to both crown and mantle (and also with very white underparts).
            The photo by Rashed referred to by Brian appears to have a grey cast to the crown and a lot of black in the tail and I'd agree it is likely a hybrid - but I wouldn't label it a 'karelini' type as the mantle is as typical phoenicuroides. (Also, this bird has been bathing by the looks of it (note water drops on back) and the crown looks wet and dishevelled. Hence I'd be a bit cautious about interpreting the precise colour of the crown.)

            Last edited by ARD; April 16th, 2012, 09:11 PM.