Shrikes range 15-37 cm in length. Plumage is mainly grey or brown above; white or light coloured below. Wings are black; the long tail is black and white. Both Canadian species have a bold black mask across the eyes. The black bill is strong, hooked, and toothed in many species (as in BIRDS OF PREY). Legs and feet are strong with sharp claws. Shrikes are perching songbirds, with a great variety of notes; Canadian species have a melodious song.
Shrikes are solitary except during nesting season. Both parents co-operate in building a deep, bulky nest, usually in trees or bushes. The eggs (2-8) are incubated by the female, with assistance from the male in some species. Young are fed by both parents.
Shrikes are predators, feeding on insects, small reptiles, birds and mammals. They watch for prey from exposed perches and are bold and aggressive, attacking swiftly. They carry their prey away, often impaling it on thornbushes before eating.
Author HENRI OUELLET
Links to Other Sites
See a description of the natural history and typical habitat of the Loggerhead Shrike in Canada. From the "Hinterland Who's Who" website. Also includes video clips, summaries of related conservation issues, and educational resources.
All About Birds
Search this online bird identification guide for information on specific bird species found in North America. Click on the dynamic map of eBird sightings for a magnified view. From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the US.
Canadian Biodiversity Website
A great information source for all budding biologists. Learn about biodiversity theory, natural history, and conservation issues. From McGill’s Redpath Museum.
Species at Risk Public Registry
A searchable database of Canadian species at risk. Provides illustrated natural histories of each species as well as information about recovery programs, a glossary, and more. From Environment Canada.
Captive Breeding and Reintroduction
Click on the animal names at the bottom of the page to find out more about the Toronto Zoo's captive breeding and reintroduction programs for rare and endangered species.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...