Raptors use their strong talons to catch and kill their prey but the shrike does not have talons, which is the main reason it is not classified as a raptor. Instead of using its feet the shrike uses its beak to catch its prey. The shrike has a notch on its beak called a tomial tooth which it uses to sever the spinal cord of its prey, falcons also have a tomial tooth. The shrike will then wedge the prey in a crevice or impale it on barbwire or a branch and use its hooked beak to rip it into bite size pieces. While loggerhead shrikes are found in western Minnesota during the summer, a loggerhead sighting is more rare then spotting one of their cousins the northern shrike, which we see during the winter. I photographed this loggerhead at the Laguna Atascosa NWR in south Texas.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Loggerhead Shrike the Butcher Bird
Whenever I ask people if they know what a raptor is I often have people tell me that they are birds of prey. While all raptors are birds of prey, not all birds of prey are raptors. Take the loggerhead shrike for example, this small songbird is actually a bird of prey feeding on a diet of insects, small mammals, small reptiles and birds.