Monday, November 21, 2011

For Shrike's Sake!

Yesterday Bill Grimm and I relocated the Northern Shrike that's been hanging out at Pheasant Branch Conservancy since early November. The shrike was scouring the thicket of grass and young oaks along the southern slope of the drumlin, flying from tree to tree. Coming up empty, it perched atop one of the taller oak trees and scanned the horizon. Suddenly, something at near big springs caught its attention. It darted off in an undulating flight, gaining speed as it traveled, flying about a dozen feet above the ground. I've seen shrikes fly substantial distances before, but never one going so fast as this bird - it was as impressive as it was beautiful. We lost track of it when it dropped behind the tall prairie grass near the main trail. Moments later, it reappeared overlooking the springs from another tall perch. For the shrike's sake, I was hoping to watch it catch something. That said, the bird was looking pretty spry and healthy, so I'm confident it's been eating well.

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Nov 20, 2011 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
32 species

Canada Goose
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Barred Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Northern Shrike
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
American Robin
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Northern Shrike © 2011 Mike McDowell


  1. Mike, cool photo! This is a hatch-year/immature bird. And I'll call you on your last sentence:) Plumpness in these guys is more about feather position (related to temperature) than food consumption. They don't hold much fat at all during their time in Wisconsin.

  2. Hi Ryan,

    I realize that, but something about this particular bird seemed chunkier that other shrikes I've seen. I've never had one in the hand like you, though, so I defer to your expertise.

    Mike M.