My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

Sue's Bird Blog Archives

Northern Shrike: Another Lifer

Published December 08, 2012
Tags: Life List Happenings, Northern Shrike

Thanks to the posting of one of the birders on the list serve (Mike B), I was able to spot and watch a Northern Shrike the other day down in South Wales. It was a dismal, gray and cold day, and, although I did capture a few photos, they were poor again. I'm posting them anyway, just to memorialize that magical moment when I saw my first Northern Shrike!

For a bird with little color, it was striking!  I watched while he or she dove to the ground to catch its meal and flew from low perch to low perch, making its way across the field. It was a real treat to watch this small, arctic predator.  And I was surprised to see its bill hooked a bit; I never noticed that from the photos I've seen.

I went back again yesterday (Friday) to see if I couldn't get a few better photos for my post, but he never showed; I suspect he's left the area.  While I was there waiting, though, I saw a couple of small rodents scurrying about in the undergrowth of the field. I imagine our shrike ate well while he visited! UPDATE: I went back one more time on Sunday and, joy! He was there!

Did you know that Northern Shrikes sometimes capture prey bigger than themselves? That's a pretty fierce hunter - especially for a predator with no talons. That's right; the Northern Shrike has no talons and will stun their prey with blows from their beaks!  If they want to save their kill for later, they'll impale the victim on a thorn or barbed wire, which serves as a food cache.  It also marks their territory and even attracts mates!  Clever bird.  I am always awed at how uniquely diverse, complex, and amazing these little creatures are.
bird photo
I returned on Sunday and got these poor shots.
bird photo
He was much more accommodating for me today!
bird photo
It was another dismal day with poor light.
bird photo
bird photo
bird photo