Shrike the Impaler

northern shrike

This Northern Shrike has been frequenting the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area Causeway for a while now. I first saw it when Ryan and I took the BSBO Bird Bus for a ride around Magee. That day, it landed perfectly right in sight and, of course, neither of us had our cameras, only binoculars. It was, however, a lifer for me! Ryan noticed that there was a vole in the road from where the shrike was when spotted. We must have ruined its lunch.

A few weeks later, when I was by myself, I was driving down the causeway and I saw the shrike again. There it was, moving across the brush, stopping on the tallest branch of every one along the western dike. It was quick, but luckily this day I was just as fast. I got this shot right before it flew away.

In Lives of North American Birds, Kenn Kaufman describes the Northern Shrike’s STRIKING behavior: Forages by watching from an exposed perch, then darting out in swift, powerful flight after prey is spotted. Uses its heavy hooked bill to kill its prey, although small birds attacked in flight may be forced to the ground first with the shrike’s feet. Dead prey is sometimes impaled on a thorn and then eaten later.

Shrike the Impaler.

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