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Loggerhead Shrike

Two species of shrikes (birds) occur in North America, but only the Loggerhead Shrike is unique to this continent. Shrikes differ from other songbirds in that their diet regularly includes small animals. In the absence of a raptorial foot used by larger predatory birds to handle live prey, shrikes have developed the unique tactic of impaling prey on sharp objects such as thorns and barbed wire. This gruesome behavior has earned the species the nickname 'butcherbird'.

Loggerhead Shrikes are birds that love open places. Their habitat (homes) typically includes grasslands with scattered trees and shrubs that provide nesting and perching sites. Shrikes typically hunt from dead trees, tall shrubs, utility wires and fences, and may impale their prey on sharp twigs, thorns, or barbed wire. These killing aids may also be important requirements of habitat selection by the Loggerhead Shrike.

The Loggerhead Shrike is a medium-sized songbird. In the southern parts of the species' range, the Loggerhead Shrike is a permanent resident, but in more northerly areas, including Alberta, the species is migratory. They move around. Males arrive on the breeding grounds before females. Nests are built in a variety of trees and shrubs. The female, alone, builds the nest over a period of six to eleven days.

Loggerhead Shrikes consume a wide variety of vertebrate and invertebrate prey, and appear to adjust their diet to whatever is available. Generally, small mammals and birds make up the majority of vertebrate prey, although small reptiles and amphibians are also consumed. In Alberta, vertebrate prey are primarily Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, Meadow Voles, and Sagebrush Voles.

To learn more about other species at risk in Alberta click here.

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike