An aggressive hunter, the birds mainly hunts from a perch, making a short dash through the branches to snatch prey from tree trunks, foliage or the ground (2) (4). This forceful, surprise attack is usually sufficient to catch the lizards and small birds on which the shikra feeds, although on rare occasions it may engage in aerial pursuits. Other prey taken by this species include nestlings, eggs, bats, rodents, frogs and insects (2).
The shikra’s breeding season varies significantly according to location, but most commonly occurs at the end of the dry season. Populations breed between March and August in Sri Lanka; between January and June in India; January and May in west and north-east Africa, probably throughout the year in East Africa, between August and January in southern Africa, and in late May in Azerbaijan (2). Prior to nesting, the shikra is highly vocal and engages in soaring displays (2) (4). Two to four eggs are laid in a small stick nest lined with bark flakes, which is placed in the outer fork of a horizontal tree branch. Incubation lasts for around 30 to 35 days according to location, with fledging occurring around 32 days later (2).
At the end of the breeding season, shikra populations located at the northern edge of its global range make a southward migration, some heading south-west to Arabia, but most travelling to Pakistan, India and south-east Asia. In other parts of its range, this species is resident throughout the year, although some seasonal movements occur in Africa (2).