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Loggerhead Shrike
Salton Sea - Unit 1, CA
November 10, 2010


The Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) is a passerine bird. It is the only member of the shrike family endemic to North America.

The bird has a large hooked bill; the head and back are grey and the underparts white. The wings and tail are black, with white patches on the wings and white on the outer tail feather. The black face mask extends over the bill, unlike that of the similar but slightly larger Northern Shrike.

The bird breeds in semi-open areas in southern Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, south to Mexico. It nests in dense trees and shrubs. The female lays 4 to 8 eggs in a bulky cup made of twigs and grass.

The shrike is a permanent resident in the southern part of the range; northern birds migrate further south.

The bird waits on a perch with open lines of sight and swoops down to capture prey. Its principal food is large insects; it also takes rodents and small birds. Known in many parts as the "Butcher Bird," it impales its prey on thorns or barbed wire before eating it, because it does not have the talons of the larger birds of prey.

The population of this species has declined in the northeastern parts of its range, possibly due to loss of suitable habitat and pesticide use.

"Loggerhead" refers to the relatively large head as compared to the rest of the body.

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