Of the three shrike species breeding in Portugal, the Southern Grey is the sole resident, moving only short distances, if at all, from its territory after the breeding season. Wandering juveniles seeking new territories move a little further and a few may even cross to North Africa via the Strait of Gibraltar. Although fearsome predators, they are only thrush-sized but with rather longer tails.

Until recently meridionalis was regarded as just a southern form of the circumpolar Great Grey Shrike which occurs to the south of its sub-Arctic breeding range in winter but is very rare in Iberia. I suspect that some suspiciously early autumn arrivals of claimed Great Greys in Spain could in fact relate to a similar Saharan form of Southern (possibly also a different species) which I have twice seen in the south-west of the Algarve after sand-bearing south-easterly winds.

In Portugal, Southern Grey Shrikes occur throughout the country except the coastal north-west but are only thinly distributed in the Algarve. They are commonest in the open plains of Alentejo province where they can be seen scanning for insect prey, like grasshoppers, from roadside telegraph wires. They will also take small birds, rodents and lizards as the opportunity arises. As well as pouncing on ground prey from a perch, they are capable of extended hovering and will take flying insects in direct pursuit. Where suitable cover exists, these opportunistic birds also adopt a low-level surprise attack strategy, similar to that used by Sparrowhawks.

Solitary by nature outside the breeding season, when they are easy to see, the shrikes become much more secretive when nesting. Nests are always in trees or thorny scrub, usually around three metres from the ground. Territories are quite large (up to ten hectares) so breeding density everywhere is quite low. The song, given by both sexes, consists of quiet, scratchy warbling interspersed with louder raucous notes and some mimicry. Far-carrying nasal call notes and a drawn-out whistle communicate between pairs.

The main threat to all shrikes comes from larger avian predators, particularly Sparrowhawks and Goshawks. The Portuguese population of Southern Grey seems to be stable, in contrast to Spain where agricultural intensification is probably responsible for a decline which began in the 1970s.