NORTHERN SHRIKE

NORTHERN SHRIKE(Lanius excubitor)

The Northern shrike (or great grey shrike) is a predatory bird with a particular way of killing its prey. The Latin name appropriately means ‘sentinel butcher’, because it perches atop a tree and waits till a bird flies by. It kills them by impaling them on a sharp stick or a thorn. The bird will then use the thorn as a support to tear the prey into small biting pieces. The bird will also feed on mice and insects. The northern shrike will kill more prey than needed immediately, and will cache the kills for later meals.

Because of its hunting style, this bird is found in open country. The northern shrike has a grey head and back and white under parts. It has a black mask. The upper mandible is curved as in raptors. This bird breeds in the arctic and is rare or unusual in the winter in PEI.

Northern shrike - Breadalbane area, PEI - Apr. 25, 2017 - by Chris Rice
Northern shrike – Breadalbane area, PEI – Apr. 25, 2017 – by Chris Rice
Northern shrike, rare in winter - Dec. 31, 2016 - by Matt Beardsley
Northern shrike, rare in winter – Dec. 31, 2016 – by Matt Beardsley
Northern Shrike, immature - Brackley Pt. Road, PEI - Mar. 10, 2018 - © Matt Beardsley
Northern Shrike, immature – Brackley Pt. Road, PEI – Mar. 10, 2018 – © Matt Beardsley

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