FLOing WILD: Loggerhead Shrike
December 23 is Loggerhead Shrike Day.
7" to 9" long, slightly smaller than an American Robin.
Disporportionaly large, or logger, head, with a short, heavy, hooked beak that is entirely dark.
Head and back are bluish gray, underparts white or grayish white.
A broad black mask starts at the nape, surrounds the eye, and extends to and just above the beak.
Wings are black with a white patch at the tops of the primary feathers. Look for the two white wing patches when it flies.
The tail is black with white feather tips.
Male and female are similar in size and color.
What Bob Putnam spotted at The Little Big Econ on April 6th is an endangered bird, becoming more rare every year.
The Loggerhead Shrike, nicknamed "Butcher-bird," is the only known predatory songbird.. Shrikes hunt like a small hawk, preying on insects and small animals, including other birds.
A masked, hooked-billed songbird, the Loggerhead Shrike compensates for a lack of talons by impaling itís prey on thorns or barbed-wire. If you spot a grasshopper speared on a twig during your hike, you are probably in Shrike territory!
The Loggerhead Shrike flies with a fluttering, gliding, motion, showing large white patches on the wings. It is easily confused with Mockingbirds, which have longer tails, larger wing patches - but importantly - no mask.
The Loggerhead Shrike once had a breeding range extending from Central and Southern Canada, throughout the Continental U.S., and through most of Mexico.
Once widely distributed, the Loggerhead Shrike has aroused serious concern because of declining numbers throughout itís range. (See The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Loggerhead Shrike Status Assessment - link at bottom of page).
In the U.S. it is state listed as threatened or endangered in 14 states. In Canada the Eastern population is listed as endangered and the Western population is listed as threatened..
Way to go Bob!
For more on the Loggerhead Shrike:
US Fish & wildlife Service Loggerhead Shrike Status Assessment, Nov 2000: