Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Shrike Attack

I looked out the window into my backyard yesterday and saw something I had never seen there before. A Shrike was feeding on what appeared to be a female Cardinal. I have seen Shrikes in the wild before. I have never seen them in my yard and never seen them carrying out their distinctive kind of predatory behavior. Shrikes are predatory songbirds that often impale their victims on thorns. They will leave them there to return later to feed.

There are two varieties: Northern and Loggerhead. Northern Shrikes winter in Minnesota so this is likely what I was watching in my yard. We have had extensive rabbit damage of our shrubs this winter - I wish we had more large predators in the neighborhood - and the Shrike had used the chewed-off stem of a Chokeberry as its thorn.

I watched it through my binoculars for a few minutes then attempted to take a picture out the back door of the garage. It eyed me for long enough to capture two shots with my very inadequate (for nature photography) camera and then it pulled the Cardinal off the stem and flew off.

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