The masked shrike feeds mainly on insects, particularly crickets, grasshoppers and beetles, although it will also sometimes take other arthropods and small vertebrates. The masked shrike forages using a ‘sit and wait’ strategy, taking up a hunting perch on the branch of a bush or tree, around three to eight metres above the ground. Prey is usually captured on the ground, although it will occasionally catch insects in flight or glean items from foliage. This species often displays a somewhat unusual behaviour once prey has been caught, impaling its food on thorns or barbed wire, or hanging it from the fork of a branch to store it for later (2) (4).
The courtship display of the masked shrike is similar to many other shrike species in the genus Lanius and is typically accompanied by wing-shivering, tail-spreading and various head movements. It is likely that the masked shrike also displays courtship feeding behaviour, where the female is brought food by a courting male (4). Depending on the location, the masked shrike begins breeding between early April and mid-June, when three to seven creamy, pale-buff or yellowish eggs are laid. The masked shrike is a territorial breeder, defending small areas around the nest throughout the breeding season (2). The nest is a small, open cup built by both sexes (2) (4), which is placed in the fork of a tree, typically 1 to 12 metres above the ground (2). It is constructed of rootlets, twigs and plant matter, and lined with wool, hair or man-made materials. It is usually covered on the outside with lichen. The eggs are incubated by the female for around 14 to 16 days. Following hatching, both adults feed the chicks over a period of 18 to 20 days before they fledge, and the chicks remain dependent on the adult birds for 3 to 4 weeks after leaving the nest (2) (4). The masked shrike is monogamous, and a pair will often raise two broods in the same year (2).
The masked shrike is a migratory bird, typically leaving the breeding grounds between August and September. The birds arrive at the wintering grounds between September and November, and begin the spring migration back to the breeding grounds from February onwards (2). Although normally a solitary species, the masked shrike often congregates at resting sites in groups of up to around 100 birds during migration (2) (4).