Sunday, February 27, 2011

Northern Shrike

I finally saw my first Northern Shrike. I took advantage of the sunshine on Friday afternoon and made a quick trip around the auto tour at RNWR. On the home stretch, I saw a bird fly in front of my car and land in the blackberry bushes to the right. I tried to position my car so that I could get a picture, but it flew off on the opposite side of the berm that runs along the road.
I took a chance that it might come back and drove up to the place it disappeared and waited. Sure enough, it flew up to the top of some branches of a bush. I was able to get a few decent shots of it before it flew off into the grassy area to the left and landed close enough to keep an eye on it.
I watched for a couple of minutes until it suddenly reached down and plucked a rodent up from the ground.
It only held on to it for a moment before it dropped it again and stood there as the rodent kicked. This lasted for what seemed like about a half a minute. I not sure, but it seemed like it was waiting for the rodent to die.It then scooped up the rodent and flew off.
It's interesting in that the rodent is almost as big as the shrike. I wonder if it eats it all itself or shares it. Northern Shrikes are typically solitary and does not breed here.


  1. That is exactly where I saw one last time. Probably the same guy!

  2. Rick, it seems likely that the Shrike would want the prey dead before it flew, since the mouse is pretty heavy compared to the bird, and wiggling would be hard to deal with. Shrikes hang up their prey on thorns, barbed wire, and that sort of hook and eat parts of it over time.