We studied the breeding ecology of the Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis) at the Shezaf Nature Reserve, Arava Valley, Israel, an extremely arid desert with mean annual rainfall of 30 mm. We color-banded 128 shrikes during 2007–2009. The breeding season lasted from late February until late June. We found 34 nests and a correlation between years with amount of precipitation and number of breeding pairs. Second broods after successful broods were found only in 2007 and were all unsuccessful. Most nests were in Acacia trees; pairs that nested in dry trees, lacking foliage, were more likely to fail. The average clutch size was 3.44; average number of nestlings was 1.95; and average number of nestlings that fledged was 1.24. These results are lower than other studies of the species, probably a result of the scarcity of food in the arid environment. Nest survival rate was higher during incubation than during rearing of nestlings (0.71vs. 0.62), and total nest survival was 44.5%. The arid Arava Valley influences breeding success of Southern Grey Shrikes, and the present severe drought could negatively influence persistence of the shrike population in the Arava Valley.

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