Lanius Ludovicianus – Loggerhead Shrike

Lanius ludovicianus - Loggerhead shrike

The loggerhead shrike, Lanius ludovicianus, is a Laniid passerine bird in the Laniidae family. It is one of two endemic North American shrikes, the other being the northern shrike. It’s called the butcherbird because it eats frogs, insects, lizards, small mammals, and birds, some of which are displayed and preserved at a location, like a tree. Due to its tiny size and weak talons, this predatory bird impales its victim on thorns or barbed wire.

Quick Overview: Lanius Ludovicianus – Loggerhead Shrike
Body size: Around 9 in (23 cm) and a weight of 48 g (1.7 oz)
Main colors: Gray, White, Black
Range: Southern United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All Year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Loggerhead shrike Description

This shrike is a passerine. Like many songbirds, the Loggerhead Shrike’s coloration is essential in enticing a partner (along with displayed hunting prowess). Their gray backs contrast with the shrike’s white breast and other parts. The Loggerhead’s black mask spreads around the eyes and into the forehead.

Lanius ludovicianus - Loggerhead shrike
Lanius Ludovicianus – Loggerhead Shrike. Photo by: Susan Young

Size

These birds have a length of 9 in (23 cm) and a weight of 48 g (1.7 oz). Their wings could range from 12.5-13 in (32-33 cm).

Feeding

Only one predatory songbird is known. Since they lack talons or claws, they must impale their prey. Impaling is done with a hooked beak against a tree or barbed wire. Its food includes mice, insects, tiny amphibians, and even small birds.

Habitat

Except while nesting, both sexes like to hide in open areas to hunt and surprise prey. A Loggerhead prefers a rural field surrounded by woods or thickets to virtually any other.

Behavior

As stated previously, the Loggerhead’s behavior is nearly completely focused on hunting. Its life is driven by the urge to search for food, offspring, or procreation.

Lanius ludovicianus Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Laniidae
  • Genus: Lanius
  • Species: Lanius ludovicianus

Subspecies

There are seven (7) recognized species.

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Loggerhead shrike in the USA

Popular in many regions of central Canada, border states, and the United States Midwest. During its spring/summer migration, it can be spotted as far south as California, but in smaller numbers. The Shrike’s journey is not entirely predictable, as seen by its frequent appearances in Florida.

The Loggerhead shrike can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Lanius Ludovicianus – Loggerhead Shrike

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