Saturday, December 12, 2015

Northern Shrike

The scientific name for the Northern Shrike is Lanius excubitor. Translations from the Latin vary, but the name means Sentinal Butcher or Watchman Butcher.  In the winter, Northern Shrikes take small birds and mammals, which the shrikes often empale on thorns or barbed wire. In the summer, insects are also taken. Unlike hawks, which capture prey in their claws, shrikes use their razor-sharp bills.

On 30 November, Erika and I found this Northern Shrike perched on top of a tall, dead tree in the Minnesota River National Wildlife Refuge. These shrikes are winter visitors to Minnesota. They breed across Alaska and arctic Canada.

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