Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor)
with Striped Field Mouse (Apodemus agrarius) propped up on thorn.
Northern Shrikes, the world's only true carnivorous songbirds, breed in the boreal forest way north of us but appear in Michigan each winter for sporadic visits. Shrikes are also known as "butcher birds" because of their habit of catching small birds, mammals, and insects and impaling their bodies on thorns or any available sharp point. This helps them to tear the flesh into smaller, more conveniently-sized fragments, or they can also leave the uneaten portions for another time.
About the size of a American Robin at 10 inches long, the Northern Shrike has a pearl grey back and a whitish belly. Their wings and tail are black with white edges and a deep black mask extends from the sharp, hooked beak through the eye to the ear coverts.
They search for food by perching and then dropping from their elevated perch and using their hooked beak to grab the head of their prey. Shrikes then store their finds on stakes, and will usually consume them within nine days.
- Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk comes for a visit http://bit.ly/w1fDRM
- Can You Scare a Hawk Away? http://bit.ly/w3vz5B
- Small birds attack hawk http://bit.ly/sH68yB
- Frozen Woodpecker http://bit.ly/ubSCTR
- Is it safe to feed the birds out in the open? http://bit.ly/rBErxI