The Loggerhead Shrike
The Loggerhead Shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus) hunts large insects and small vertebrates like rodents and lizards from perches in areas with scattered tall trees and shrubs, and lots of bare ground or areas of low ground cover, like our Mesquite woodland and Saltgrass meadow in the Wetlands Park Nature Preserve.
Shrikes may launch from their perches to catch prey, or even hop around in low shrubs or on the ground when hunting actively.
Shrikes are raptors with powerful hooked bills, but they have weak feet that cannot hold prey firmly while they eat. So, they impale larger prey items on thorns, jagged twigs, or even barb-wire fences. They are sometimes called “butcher bird,” since the prey looks like meat hanging in an old fashioned butcher shop!
Shrikes may use people hiking or walking in their territory to flush prey. Sometimes they will follow a walker for a half mile or more, snapping up prey that flies or scurries out of cover. I once had one follow me the entire length of our Nature Preserve trail between the Mesquite-Saltgrass and Riparian habitats, eating the buffet I provided as we went! Have a story? We’d love to hear from you – Chris Leavitt, President