Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017
Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Shrike Strikes - Monday, May 18, 2015

One of my favorite things to do if I'm writing a blog during the day is to watch birds visiting our bird feeders. The usual suspects that crack into the safflower seeds are sparrows, house finches, cardinals, the occasional red-winged blackbirds, and the birds who pick up the seeds off the grass - Inca doves, white-winged doves and a couple of pigeons. I also have hummingbirds at the hummingbird feeder.

Imagine my surprise when I looked out and saw this bird sitting on the feeding pole...

Northern (or loggerhead?) shrike
This shrike kept looking at the ground.
I was snapping away, taking photos of the shrike, when I should have been looking at the ground. This became very apparent when the shrike flew to the ground. There, dead as could be, was a sparrow. As I watched, the shrike picked up the dead sparrow in its beak and flew away with it. (The only reason I think this is a Northern Shrike is because of the obvious hook at tip of its bill. But it could be a loggerhead shrike because of the wider face mask and its range into south Texas.)

I immediately grabbed my Sibley's Field Guide to Birds and looked up Northern and loggerhead shrikes. It says, "Perches on high exposed branch or wire when foraging for small birds and rodents." I didn't see how the sparrow died, but I surmised the shrike had something to do with it. Many sparrows have eaten at my feeder, but none have died. As soon as I see a shrike, I see a dead sparrow. Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway that was Mother Nature's lesson for today. I never would have believed the shrike could fly away with a sparrow, but I saw it with my own eyes. Wow.

I also have a couple of hummingbird photos to share:

Travel Bug out.


  1. What a sight! It seems like the sparrow would be too large for the shrike to lift off with! Animals are amazing!

  2. Nature can be so brutal at times, but it is amazing how it works. I'm always in awe.

  3. That was quite a sighting for you. I've read and written about how they hunt and then impale their food on things so they can eat them. But to watch him looking at the sparrow and then swooping down and getting it, wow. The cycle of life right before your eyes. I think they are very interesting looking birds with their black masks. :)


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