Sunday, March 19, 2017

Loggerhead Shrike Hunting at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge

They're not uncommon, but it's rare for me to get close enough to a Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) for pictures (just twice, so far). I was at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge last week, and though the big and charismatic cranes, swans, and geese were there, they stayed far from the auto-tour road. We found ourselves concentrating on the smaller birds, most of whom are year-round residents. They included the owl chicks we saw, and this Shrike that was keeping an eye on things near the viewing platform at the entrance to refuge.

As I've mentioned in past blog posts, the Loggerhead Shrike is related to the songbirds, but behaves like a small raptor, eating large bugs, amphibians, small reptiles and mammals, and even other small birds. According to the Cornell Ornithology site, their population has been in a steep decline, perhaps due to ingestion of pesticides in their prey.

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