Under construction

This section is still under construction! Although mostly functional, there is still plenty of information missing and many images are waiting to be added. We are working as quickly as we can...

Common Fiscal
(Lanius collaris)

Common Fiscal

General description

This is a fairly distinctive bird with white underparts and black upperparts extending from the top of the head down to the tail. The bird has a characteristic white "V" on the back and a relatively long black tail with white outer feathers and white tips on the other feathers.

The bill, eyes and legs are black. Adult male and female common fiscals are quite similar except for the rufous lower flank of the female.

Juveniles are duller and browner, with finely barred blackish feathers above and below.

They can be confused with the Fiscal Flycatcher which is shorter-tailed and narrower-billed.

Calls are a jumbled mix of shrike-like swizzling sounds including some imitations and a harsh Dzzzttt-dzzzt-dzzzt alarm call.

Name & classification

Scientific name:
Lanius collaris

Common names:
Common Fiscal, Butcher Bird (English)
Fiskaallaksman (Afrikaans)

Fiscal Shrike, Common Fiscal Shrike

Roberts VII english name:
Common Fiscal

Roberts VII scientific name:
Lanius collaris

Shrikes (Laniidae)

Further information



Diet consists mainly of insects, but also small vertebrates including birds, reptiles and rodents. Occasionally they will consume seeds and food scraps.

Their common name, Butcher Bird, is due to its habit of impaling its prey on acacia thorns to store the food for later consumption.

The Common Fiscal is usually solitary and hunts insects and small rodents from an exposed perch or the tops of shrubs. Territorial size is directly related to the density of hunting perches. Installing more artificial perches causes the fiscal to reduce its territory size and allow more birds in the affected range.

The often forage close to people in gardens where they swoop down to consume insects churned up whilst gardening.

These birds are monogamous and build a bulky cup nest concealed fairly low in a tree or shrub.

Natural distribution:
These birds are found over most of Southern Africa.

The Common Fiscal lives in a wide range of habitats from grassland with fences for perching to acacia thornveld or even woodland, but avoids very dense habitats where its hunting would be impaired.

Common Fiscals are occasional hosts of the Jacobin Cuckoo.

User notes & lists

You need to be a registered user in order to create bird lists and notes. If you have already registered, then please log in now, otherwise, register here. It will only take a moment and we won't pass your information on to anyone else.

You can then use this section to create lists of your own birds in your garden, or a list of favourite birds or simply a wish list

No one has ever become poor by giving

When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.


  ·   Privacy policy  ·   Sitemap  ·   © African Legacy
African Legacy is an accredited Non-profit Organisation (Reg no. 179-829 NPO)