Lanius ludovicianus


The Loggerhead Shrike, often referred to as a "Butcher Bird", will stun or kill prey with its powerful, hooked beak before impaling it on a plant thorn or barbed-wire fence. The impaled victim will then be picked apart over time, sometimes left there for months before being finished. The prey typically consists of a small bird, mouse, or large insect. The birds sharply hooked beak makes-up for a lack of talons, that birds of prey have. Loggerheads have exceptional eyesight and can spot a grasshopper from 70 yards away.

This bird is on the endangered species list in California. A subspecies of this bird, which lives only on San Clemente Island, in the Channel Islands in California, had just sixteen adults recorded in 1999; making it one of the rarest vertebrates in North America. Of the 38 shrike species in the world, only two inhabit North America, the Loggerhead and the Northern.


Gray head and back. White underparts. Thick, black eye mask. Short, heavy, hooked bill. Black wings with white patches. Black tail with white outer feathers. Juveniles and immatures are duller with barring above and below. 8 to 10 inches in length.


Desert, shrubby grasslands, and farms.


4-6 white eggs with gray and brown spots. The eggs have a 16-17 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 17-21 days. The nest is a a bulky mass of twigs and grass lined with plant down and feathers. It is typically built in a thorny shrub or tree.

Observed Locations:

  • Lake Murray, La Mesa
  • Manzanita Forest, Anza Borrego Desert State Park

  Listen To This Bird ( mp3 )
         Song #1

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Mesquite Bosque

Mesquite Bosque



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Copyright © Scott Streit, 2000.