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Breeding Birds: Loggerhead Shrike : Loggerhead Shrike

October 06, 1989|Clipboard researched by Elena Brunet, Susan Davis Greene and Rick VanderKnyff / Los Angeles Times; Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

(Lanius ludovicianus)

Description: Broad black mask extends above eye and across top of bill. Head and back bluish gray; underparts white, very faintly barred. All-dark hooked bill.

Habitat: Open fields with scattered

trees, open woodland, scrub.

Diet: Insects, small vertebrates and carrion.

Display: In courtship, male feeds female and performs flight display back and forth about 20 feet from female. Mock pursuits occur also.

Nest: Bulky, cup-shaped nest of twigs and bark strips woven

together and lined with fine materials; usually hidden below crown in crotch or on large branch, occasionally in vine tangle.

Eggs: Grayish-buff, marked with gray, browns or black, often near large end; about one inch long.

Natural history notes: Loggerheads hunt in open or brushy areas, diving from a low perch then rising swiftly to the next lookout. Loggerhead and northern shrikes, sometimes known as "butcher birds," lack talons; they impale their prey on thorns or barbed-wire, either to eat them immediately or for future use. Shrikes have uncanny memory: In Texas, shrikes were reported returning to mummified frogs they had stored eight months before. In flight, the loggerhead shrike can resemble the northern mockingbird; loggerhead has darker tail and wing and smaller white wing patches.

Breeding bird atlas: To report bird breeding activity in your neighborhood, or to get information on the breeding bird atlas (now in its fifth and final year), call Sea and Sage Audubon Society member Nancy Kenyon, (714) 786-3160.

Note: Map is divided into 5-kilometer squares so that Audubon Society volunteers can more easily survey areas on a regular basis.

Sources: Sea and Sage Audubon Society; "The Birder's Handbook," Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, Fireside Books (1988); "Field Guide to the Birds of North America," National Geographic Society (1987); "Birds of Southern California: Status and Distribution," Garrett and Dunn, Los Angeles Audubon Society (1981).

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