Photo Credit: Dave Cagnolatti & Weeks Bay Reserve Foundation
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Lanius ludovicianus
DESCRIPTION: A medium sized songbird (8-10 inches long) that regularly preys on small mammals and other songbirds; similar to the mockingbird in size and coloration. The head is bluish gray with a black mask surrounding the eyes and extending from the neck to the bill. The wings are black with a white patch on the primaries and the tail is black with white edges. The most distinguishing feature of this bird is its black hooked bill, which is slightly notched, hooked like a falcon and used to kill prey. The feet lack sharp talons, like hawks, but are strong with sharp claws. Males are slightly larger than females.
DISTRIBUTION: Found throughout most of the
HABITAT: Open grass areas such as pastures with fences, mowed rights of way, open shrub land, and agricultural areas. Prefers scattered shrubs and low trees for perching and nesting. These shrubs and trees are likely to be species with thorns.
FEEDING HABITS: The shrike is the only predatory songbird in
LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY: In the southern portions of their range shrikes will mate as early as February and March with migratory populations breeding later in April and May. Males will use impaled prey as a display to attract females and will actually kill prey it does not need for food to show his ability to provide for a mate. Loggerhead shrikes are very territorial and both sexes will defend feeding, roosting and nest sites. Nests are always built in trees or shrubs three feet or more off the ground, are cup shaped and made of sticks, twigs and moss. The female usually assembles the nest from materials the male brings to her. She will incubate four to seven eggs for 16 to 17 days while the male brings her food. Both the male and female feed the nestlings. Fledging takes 17 to 21 days after hatching and adults will care for the young three to four weeks after fledging. The female will lay another clutch and start incubation while the male tends to the young. Two clutches are often raised per year.
Hall, S.P., LeGrand, H.E., Jr., and Fisher, R.A. (1997). “Species profile: Loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) on Military installations in the southeastern
http://museum.nhm.uga.edu./gawildlife/birds/passeriformes/ludovicianus.html Discover Life – vertebrata: Aves: Laniidae: Lanius ludovicianus.
Mirarchi, R. E., ed. 2004.
Porter, C. 2000. “Lanius ludovicianus” (on-line) Animal Diversity Web. Accessed
Author: Paul Carver, Wildlife Biologist, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.