Sunday, November 9, 2008


Shrikes, either Northern or Loggerhead (our two North American species) have been a nemesis bird for Birdcouple. Shrikes flee at the sound of our name. They go to the next county. Or state. They hide behind fenceposts and snicker at us as we drive by. I mean, we've seen a bloody Crimson-Breasted Shrike in Namibia (beautiful bird, by the way), but none here on our home turf. It's become a running joke with us....

So, when news broke middle of last week that a Northern Shrike had been spotted over in Queen Anne's County, less than an hour's drive away, and was giving every birder for miles great looks, we naturally decided to go not see it again. What the heck, it would be a nice drive. And our friend Ross Geredien was up for some spontaneous adventure.

So off we went. And guess what?

Lisa's smile tells it all. The shrike appeared at the top of a tree as soon as we got out of the car. It must not have heard we were coming.....

Life bird! This is a beautiful bird. But not a gentle one. Shrikes are nick-named "Butcher Bird" because they have a lovely habit of impaling their prey--mice, insects, small birds--on barbed wire or thorns before dining. Vlad the Impaler bird.
Shrikes are not super-rare or endangered, but irregular. They wander far and wide in search of stuff to skewer. Here's another look at this handsome devil:

A Mockingbird in the area apparently didn't like Mr. Shrike cutting in on the action. This photo is fuzzy and the lighting was bad, but just check out the body language between these two avians:

On the way home, we stopped at a field overloaded with Snow Geese , our first of the season. Ross Geredien scoped for Ross' Goose. No luck. Still, it was a beautiful sight:

Birdcouple needs a new nemesis bird. Hmm, how about American Golden Plover?

P.S. BirdCouple has been kind of lame this year, but we finally got on the ball today and purchased our Federal Duck Stamp. It's only $15, and 98% of the price goes to buy habitat for National Wildlife Refuges. The ones YOU love to visit and bird. So please please please get yours now, if you haven't already. You can do it on-line right here.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on your latest Life Bird!! Way to go W & L.

Love V & L

Kristen Pironis said...

Michael and I saw this in our backyard last week and didn't know what is was. Thanks for the ID!

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Kristen - You are welcome!

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

Congrats on the shrike. It would be a new one for me too.
Nice photo of the Snow Geese.

Anonymous said...

Great sighting! It's always nice to knock down a nemesis. That's a serious irruption, isn't it?

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Mike - Thanks! Not sure I'd call it an "irruption." Northern Shrikes show up in these parts from time to time - never in great #s. But we are hoping for the predicted irruption of Snowy Owls!


Anonymous said...

If I can, I'd like to paint this picture. It's beautiful and would match my wall perfectly. Hope that's okay.