Northern Shrike: Medium shrike with gray upperparts,pale gray underparts. Mask is black with white border, bill is heavy and slightly hooked. Wings are black with white patches. Tail is long, black, and white-edged. Legs and feet are black. Flight is swift and undulating on shallow rapid wing beats.
Range and Habitat
Northern Shrike: Breeds from northern Alaska south to central Quebec, northern Manitoba and northern British Columbia. Migrates south in winter as far as central and southwestern U.S. Prefers forest edges, open willow brush, and brush-bordered swamps and bogs.
Since they lack talons, they stun or kill their prey with blows from their powerful beaks. Then, if they do not eat their prey immediately, they impale it on thorns or barbed wire. This serves not only as a food cache but also marks territory and attracts mates.
The species name of the Northern Shrike, Lanius excubitor, means, "Butcher watchman."
Their nest is so deep that while incubating, all that can be seen of the female is the tip of her tail.
A group of shrikes are collectively known as an "abattoir" and a "watch" of shrikes.
The Northern Shrike has a large range, estimated globally at over 10,000,000 square kilometers. Native to Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America, this bird prefers savanna, grassland, wetland, desert, forest, and shrubland ecosystems as well as rocky areas. The global population of this bird is not fully quantified but estimated to be very high and does not show signs of decline that would necessitate inclusion on the IUCN Red List. For this reason, the current evaluation status of the Northern Shrike is Least Concern.