December 25, 2009
Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor)
So I was looking outside my window this morning and I saw this little grey bird with a dark eye patch fighting with another bird. Or so I thought. On closer inspection, I saw that he was actually eating the other bird, which appears to be a male house finch. I'm not surprised, really. There's not a lot of food up here in the winter time, or there doesn't appear to be, anyhow.
I couldn't really understand what was keeping the bird from falling. Couldn't see what was sustaining the weight of the bird as it was being devoured.
So I grabbed a stack of Colorado bird books and identified this carnivore as a Loggerhead Shrike, aka "Butcher Bird". It says that his feet aren't strong enough to hold his prey, and they're known to skewer their meals on barbed wire, thorns, anything to keep it suspended while they devour their prey. And sure enough, I went out to investigate and discovered that he'd skewered the bird to the scrub oaks.
Update: I had initially identified this bird at a Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus). After posting to Whatbird.com, I've been corrected. The bird is actually a Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor), which I caught by chance at the very southern end of their range, in the dead of winter.
Posted by Rob Kiser on December 25, 2009 at 2:17 PM
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