Northern Shrike

Lanius excubitor

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  • Northern Shrike |  Photo: NPS
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Northern Shrike Photo Gallery

Basic Information

Other names

Great Grey Shrike

Order

Passeriformes

Family

Laniidae

Size

Northern Shrikes are generally between 9 and 9.5 inches in length.

Lifespan

up to 5 years

Weight

Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) facts, habitat, range, shrike pictures and bird watching tips to help you identify the songbird.

Diet

Birds, insects, small mammals

Behavior

Aerial Dive

Range

Migratory: Coast to Coast, Northern North America.

Nest Placement

Tree

Number of Offspring

4–7 Eggs

Egg Description

Gray with brown spots

Condition at Hatching

Feeble, sparse down

Social Status

Solitary

Wingspan

11.75-13.9 in

What does the Northern Shrike look like?

Northern Shrikes are medium sized songbirds with gray backs, white throats and chests, black wings with white patches. They have long black tails; black face masks and hooked downward black bills. Juveniles are brown with barring on their chests.

Northern Shrike Habitat

Open Forests

Northern Shrike Facts

Northern Shrikes strike fear into the hearts of other songbirds and small mammals. They are aggressive predators that often kill more than they can eat at a sitting, storing the rest of the prey for a rainy day. The "Butcher Watchman" as it is known in Latin will sometimes impale prey on spikes or barbed wire fences. Their call is even fierce, with a harsh and rapid "aak-aak." The nests of Northern Shrikes are in trees and are very deep. When a female is inside she may be completely out of view.

See also