The rare Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) was spotted in Malta yesterday for the first time ever.

BirdLife Malta ornithologists confirmed the bird's species this morning.

The bird was seen in the south of Malta by photographer Benny Scerri, and although it is the first record for Malta, in the recent past it has been seen sporadically in Europe - although it is still considered as a rarity.

The bird breeds in temperate Asia and at this time of the year is normally on it way to its winter quarters in tropical Asia.

The Brown Shrike is a bird in the shrike (Kaċċamendula in Maltese) family that is found mainly in Asia.

The genus name Lanius is derived from the Latin word for "butcher", and some shrikes are also known as "butcher birds" because of their feeding habits. The specific cristatus is Latin for "crested", used in a broader sense than in English. The common English name "shrike" is from Old English scríc, "shriek", referring to its shrill call.

Like most other shrikes, the Brown Shrike has a distinctive black "bandit-mask" through the eye and is found mainly in open scrub habitats, where it perches on the tops of thorny bushes in search of prey.

More scientific details here:

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