Chirps and Cheeps

A Photo Journal of My Birding Experiences & Observations

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  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.

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I returned on Sunday and got these poor shots.

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He was much more accommodating for me today!

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It was another dismal day with poor light.

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