I wandered further along the trails at the Wellington Preserve for a second time this week, after a heavy rain. There were very few birds out and about, though I noticed most of my familiar wetlands friends on the signs illustrating the wildlife that might be sighted at the preserve
I remarked to myself that the only bird on the signs that I had never seen before was the Loggerhead Shrike. As I walked along the quiet, empty pathways, I heard an unfamiliar bird song coming from nearby. When I looked up at the exposed branches of a small narrow tree, I spotted an unfamiliar shape, looking the other way, and thought to myself, “Could that possibly be a Loggerhead Shrike!?” As he fluffed up his feathers and turned his head, I saw the unmistakable, hooked beak. I DO believe that is exactly what I saw! The fairly common Loggerhead Shrike “is a songbird with a raptor’s habits” (All About Birds), and their sharp curved beak is specially designed to capture the types of prey they eat, including insects, small rodents, amphibians, reptiles, and even small birds. In fact, gruesome as it sounds, the pretty Shrike is also known as the ‘Butcher Bird’, because it sometimes “kills its prey using its hooked bill [and] often stores uneaten prey by impaling it on thorn or barbed wire, returning to eat it later.” (Audubon). Yikes!! 😳No matter how common it is, and whatever its eating habits (!), I was very excited to see it – this Loggerhead Shrike was a first for me.
This brief Bird Note episode is an excellent introduction to the Loggerhead Shrike, and also includes a video of the Shrike vocalizing (see box at bottom of link).