Shrikes aka Butcher Bird

There are 31 species of Shrike in the world. The Shrike is a very unique songbird.

In Minnesota, there are two species of Shrike. The Loggerhead and Northern Shrikes. Both birds are migratory and that aids in their identification.

The Loggerhead Shrike is an endangered bird in Minnesota. They are becoming increasingly rare here and only occur in the southern half of Minnesota. They migrate out of Minnesota in late summer and can be found with relative ease down south in places like Texas.

The Northern Shrike only visits Minnesota in the winter. They migrate south from their breeding grounds in northern Canada. I guess they find our wintertime weather more appealing than that of northern Canada!

Here at Crane Lake, we only see Shrikes in the winter – and they are always the Northern species.

There are subtle differences in the two bird species. The Loggerhead is slightly smaller, but that’s extremely hard to judge unless you see the two birds together. There are also differences in the black mask that surrounds the eyes. The best field mark is the barring that is visible on the Northern Shrike’s breast. Juvenile birds have a lot of barring, the adults, not so much.

The bird below had just collided with a window and so he was easy to approach. I snapped a few photos and left him alone as he was just dazed. Later he flew away.

juvenile Northern Shrike

Northern Shrike

Notice the hook at the end of his bill.




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