As a boy growing up in western Pennsylvania, my chances of observing a Loggerhead Shrike were slim at best. While the Loggerhead Shrike once ranged throughout the United States, habitat destruction in the northeast more or less eliminated the shrike from its former haunts. Nevertheless, the Loggerhead Shrike can be locally very common. As I deboarded the Amtrak Auto Train in Sanford Florida, I noticed a medium-sized bird flying to a palm tree. I figured the bird to be a mockingbird, but upon closer inspection, I noticed the bird’s black mask and thick, pointed black bill. It was none other than a Loggerhead Shrike, and as I followed the bird to its perch, I saw another shrike tending to her young. During my stay in central Florida, I must have seen hundreds of Loggerhead Shrikes from the highway perched upon telephone wires.
Description: The Loggerhead Shrike is a bizarre songbird. It is about 9 inches in length, with a gray head and back, black mask and wings, and white underparts. It has a thick, hooked black bill that is useful in identification. It is really no larger than a Robin. Yet small birds, reptiles, and mammals don’t scramble for cover in response to a robin like they do a Loggerhead Shrike. Why? You ask. Because the Loggerhead Shrike eats them! Not only does the Loggerhead Shrike capture them, but it stores them on thorns or barbed-wire fence! Don’t be alarmed if you see a mouse or lizard impaled in this manner. It’s not the work a maniac, but most likely a Loggerhead Shrike.
Habitat/Range/Diet: The Loggerhead Shrike is generally found in the deep south and points west of the Appalachian Mountains. Shrikes prefer open areas, with scattered trees or lookout posts. While there are many species of shrikes world-wide, the Loggerhead Shrike, and the very similar but larger Northern Shrike, are the only to be found in North America. Most Americans only see the Northern Shrike in winter. Shrikes eat insects, small mammals, birds, lizards, and frogs.
Loggerhead Shrike Video