The alternative name of 'butcher-birds' is an appropriate one for this small family of birds. The shrikes are a group of robust, starling-sized birds, with stout, hooked bills, and strong feet. They are all predatory, taking a range of large insects and small birds, mammals and lizards. Several species will impale their prey on on large thorns either to hold the prey while they dismember it, or to store it for later consumption.
The Red-backed Shrike was once a common bird across southern Britain, but has disappeared with the intensification of agricultural practices, though it is still seen on passage. The Great Grey Shrike, a winter visitor, is now perhaps the most likley to be encountered.