Monday, February 28, 2011

A Roadside Northern Shrike

Northern Shrike - Durand, Wisconsin

While Northern Shrikes are "regular" winter visitors in Pepin County, Wisconsin, I am always surprised to see one.  This winter I've spotted shrikes several times in a half-dozen places - including at my bird feeders.  I spotted this one today around noon on State Road 85 across from the Tappe farm (fire sign W5332).

It was sitting on a wire along a busy road - not a great place to hunt small bird prey and rodents (the ground is covered with a crust of ice).

We pulled off the road and watched, hoping to see this bird make a move - get a meal, hover, or cast a pellet. 

It was not meant to be.  After only a few minutes, the bird took off and headed towards the subdivision to the east.   We did not follow.

While I "know" this bird is a Northern Shrike, I can't seem to remember the differences between the Northern and Loggerhead Shrikes.  I see so few of them that I always have to check my field guide.

Take a look at the two shrikes:

Loggerhead Shrike (l) and Northern Shrike (r)
Mockingbirds are also gray, black and white.  But shrikes are chunkier in both colors and size.  When in doubt, think "mockingbirds on steroids."

Northern Mockingbird © HvHughes

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