Audubon California considers the Loggerhead Shrike to be a great indicator of the success of our Working Waterways program restoration efforts.This program is working with private landowners in Yolo County to establish hedgerows along crops. We have already seen the success these plantings have had in creating Loggerhead Shrike habitat. Underscoring the importance of Audubon California's work, the Loggerhead Shrike has seen its population plummet 72 percent since 1967 and it is one of its Common Bird in Decline.
Although only ten inches long, make no mistake this grey-colored songbird lives up to its fierce nickname of Butcher Bird. The Shrike kills its prey, insects and lizards, by impaling it on sharp thorns or barbed wire. It is found in short grass with isolated trees or shrubs. The bird is often referred to as the littlest badass, or the gateway drug to birding.
Shrike pairs display an usually strong sense of affection; funny considering how violent their hunting techniques can be perceived. John James Audubon wrote, "The male courts the female without much regard, and she, in return, appears to receive his haughty attentions with merely just as much condescension as enables her to become the mother of a family, whose feelings are destined to be of the same cold nature." Loggerhead Shrike males may impale multiple prey items and adorn them with bird bills and feathers to attract a mate, so perhaps the female is just picky about presentation?
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