Thursday, December 4, 2008

Shrike a Pose

Another first for me...The Northern Shrike.

I didn't go out looking for one... I don't even know where to look...well, until now anyway...




I saw this guy fly from a tree, through an open field and land on this sapling. I thought at first it was a Bluejay, but the coloring was...I don't know...lighter. It flew like a bluejay and it's markings were similar in flight, but I grabbed the binoculars anyway, and I am glad I did. I took this photo, but It didn't take long before he disappeared into a treeline and out of sight. I left to check out another place.



The thought of that shrike was pulling me back to that spot. I came back hoping he had a liking of the area and was pleasantly surprised to see him in another tree. He was backlit by the setting sun, but I didn't care. He really was a beautiful bird with interesting markings. And...What I found out about him in the bird guides was really interesting!




He's a vampire of sorts! Well, he doesn't drink blood, but read what this guy does do:

A predatory songbird, the Northern Shrike breeds in taiga and tundra and winters in southern Canada and the northern United States. It feeds on small birds, mammals, and insects, sometimes impaling them on spines or barbed wire fences.

Cool Facts

The Northern Shrike, like other shrikes, kills more prey, if it can, than it can immediately eat or feed to nestlings. Such behavior was characterized by early observers as "wanton killing," but the Northern Shrike stores excess prey to eat later. Storing food is an adaptation for surviving periods of food scarcity.

Generally sits and waits on an exposed perch. Seizes prey near ground with feet or bill. Kills vertebrates by biting through neck. Removes wings, spines, and stingers from insects. Often impales prey, sometimes while prey is still alive, on thorns, spines, or barbed wire. May pull impaled prey and consume it right away, or may leave it for later consumption.

Source: All About Birds

12 comments:

Shellmo said...

Great shots of a fascinating bird! I did hear about their "hunting" ability and manners - they are definitely formidable!

The Birdlady said...

Little serial killer with a penchant for torture.....Very beautiful though,and what a great shot you got!

Craig Glenn said...

Great Shots! What an interesting and beautiful bird. Never heard of this bird. Loved hearing about him and you are right, he is really cool to look at.

Thanks for the lesson!
Craig

Gardener's Garden said...

Wow what a deadly little killer this is but so very pretty. I love that light colored body which really sets him apart from the other birds.

Richard said...

I saw my first one the other day. Like you, at first I thought it was a Jay. At least you got a picture of it. Great shots.

jalynn01 said...

Yikes! What gorey feeding habits the shrike has, but what a pretty bird.

Melissa Weisbard said...

Great photos. By looking at the little guy you wouldn't think he could be such a little predator.

Tina said...

Yikes, and he looks so sweet! I guess it was the verb "impaling" that changed the way I was looking at this little guy. He sure is a looker, though! What a great find, Hannibal! Thanks for sharing all that great info...thorns, spines, wire fences. huh? Very impressed!

Marsha said...

Another one I have never seen and am lucky enough to view and learn about here! Did I say Thank You yet? If not, Thank You for sharing your love of nature with us!

Eve said...

Hannibal! I'm so glad I found this post from Bird Girl's blog this morning. I had planned to post my mornings post tomorrow but after seeing this I thought I would post it today...come and see and I think you will enjoy it...this one's for you!
The Northern Shrike is my favorite winter bird, I am lucky enough to get to have one in my yard most winters. Sadly I haven't gotten as good pictures as you did...way to go!!

Bird Girl said...

Wasn't that a neat surprise? Not looking for a shrike and it just turns up - gotta love that!!! I've heard that they hang around the same area - so you may seem him often! My sister always see her shrike at the dump where she takes her garbage.
I've only ever seen ONE in my life at a spot where I go to look for eagles. You and Eve are lucky girls this week!!!

Richard said...

What website did you use to make your header?