Northern Shrike - Lanius excubitor

Length 10.0 in (25.4 cm)
Wingspan 11.5-14.0 in (29.2-35.6 cm)
Weight 2-2.8 oz (56.7-79.4 g)
Clutch Size 4-9
Chicks at birth Altricial
IUCN Conservation Status Least Concern

The Northern Shrike, also known as the Great Grey Shrike or the Northern Grey Shrike, is found in the northern part of the U.S. and Europe. The Northern Shrike and the Loggerhead Shrike are the only two Shrikes found in North America. The Northern Shrike is the larger of the two. I am not sure that the below pictures are Northern Shrikes but I think they are.

means sentinel butcher and it comes from the way they use poles and tree tops to watch for prey and because they impale their prey on thorns, barb wire, etc.

Northern Shrikes have long hooked bills and black facial masks with a white border. Their upperparts are mainly pale blue-gray and their underparts are white. The wings are black with white patches and the tail is black with white outer feathers. Legs and feet are black. Males and females look similar, but the female has grayer underparts with greyish-brown bars.

(For more information)

Diet: The Northern Shrike perches atop trees, poles and other tall structures looking for prey with their excellent eyesight. When sighted, they fly down and use their bill to knock the prey to the ground. The bill is hooked with a tooth-like structure on the upper mandible which is used to stun or kill the prey with a series of bites.

Northern Shrikes eat a variety of birds, small mammals, insects such as crickets, beetles and caterpillars. Like the Loggerhead Shrike they will impale their food on thorns or barb wire for later consumption or to attract mates.

Courtship: Each breeding season Northern Shrikes will form another pair group. To attract a female the male the male will offer food and give a vocal display as well as showing off the white marking of his wings and tail. If the female is willing, eventually, the female will join in the male's displays, and the songs will become duets. When copulation is successful and the eggs are laid (3-9), the male will guard the nest and female and will continue to bring food to her.

Nesting: The Northern Shrike breeds in the northern part of North America. Northern Shrike build their nest in trees and the nest site is chosen by the male who also gathers most of the material. Both the male and female will build the deep cupped shaped nest. Clutch size is 3-9 eggs and the nestlings are altricial (hatched without feathers and blind).

Habitat and Range: The Northern Shrike is found throughout most of the temperate and subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. They prefer open grasslands which have trees, fence posts, power lines, etc. that can be used for lookout points.

Vocalization: Northern Shrikes sing a medley of short trills and fluid whistles and harsh notes. When disturb it gives a alarm call like a jay.

Plumage/Molt: Northern Shrikes undergo a complete molt at the breeding site after the young have fledged.

Migration: Northern Shrikes breeds in Alaska and northern Canada. They migrate to southern Canada and northern U.S. during the winter.

Tongue/feet: Like the Loggerhead Shrike, the Northern Shrike's feet are considered weak. I believe this is said because their feet are being compared to talons and not other passerines.


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