Lanius Shrikes

Great Grey Shrikes

The genus name Lanius found its description in Carl Linnaeus (as Caroli Linnæi), Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (10th edn., Holmiæ [Stockholm]: Salvii, 1758), i. 93, with synonym references of the type species (Lanius Excubitor, 94) to Ulisse Aldrovandi (as Ulyssis Aldrovandi), Ornithologiae, hoc est de avibus historiae, libri XII, ad Clementem VII, cum indice septendecim linguarum copiosissimo (Bononiae [Bologna]: Franciscum de Franciscis Senensem, 1599), v. 386 (Lanius cinereum fæmina) and Francis Willoughby (as Francisci Willughbeii), Ornithologiæ libri tres: in quibus Aves omnes hactenus cognitæ in methodum naturis suis convenientem redactæ accuratè describuntur, descriptiones iconibus elegantissimis & vivarum avium simillimisæri incisis illustratur (Londini [London]: Martyn, 1676), ii. 53 (Lanius cinereus major Great Butcher-bird, Mattagess). Both these works take Lanius from Conrad Gessner (as Conradi Gesneri), Historiæ animalium, Liber III qui est de avium natura (Tiguri [Zürich]: Froschoverum, 1555), 777, who invented the epithet of Lanios/Lanius (from Latin lanius = butcher) as according to him the genus deserved a new name.

An imaginative genus with many synonyms – the Richmond card index has 679 entries (including duplicates the list is still voluminous) – many species taxonomically in flux, the IOC recognizes 28 species, 70 subspecies, though some subspecies may well be split to species level, and some may be lumped.

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