Shrikes return


The Northern Shrike is a songbird that eats other songbirds.

Indeed, with its hooked bill, it is almost a wannabe raptor. Alas, it lacks a raptor’s talons and so must impale its prey on thorns as a way of holding them in place as it uses its hooked bill to tear them into bite-sized pieces. 

Having bred in the boreal forest well to our north, the Northern Shrike visits here only in the winter months, beginning in October. Mind you, as with predators everywhere, it isn’t a common find, but just an occasional one. So, I was delighted to encounter one in the grasslands of Kokanee Creek Park this morning. Curiously, this is where I have also seen Northern Shrikes other years. There it hunts small birds and ground-dwelling vertebrates from prominent perches. I also include a picture of a shrike taken a year and a half ago as it took a shrew from those grasslands.

It will also hang out adjacent to household bird feeders hoping to pick off tasty little birds. 

A newly arrived Northern Shrike watches for prey from a convenient thorn bush.

From a year and a half ago on the grasslands, a Northern Shrike captures a shrew.


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4 Responses to Shrikes return

  1. Dr Goodwill Sang-Froid says:

    The Northern Shrike is surely not a songbird but rather a sangbird.

  2. Thank you, Alistair. These are spectacular photos.

  3. Trevor Goward says:

    Hi Alistair

    Thanks for yet another splendid composition, by which I mean the first, which asks to be gazed at in wonder for a very long while – perhaps an entire month, if you take my meaning.

    For me, the blue light works perfectly in this context – sangfroid indeed – as does the single thorn, with its implication of intent.

    Always a pleasure!

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