Nature Sask. on the lookout for threatened bird species as hatching season begins
A family of Loggerhead Shrikes, also known as Butcherbirds, are shown in this handout photo. (Courtesy: Nature Saskatchewan/Boyd Coburn)
Published Monday, July 8, 2019 2:22PM CST
Nature Saskatchewan says Loggerhead Shrike chicks are now hatching, and is encouraging the public to keep an eye out for the bird on fence posts, barbed wire, or elsewhere.
Loggerhead Shrikes, also known as Butcherbirds, are a threatened species of migratory songbirds that return to the Saskatchewan and other parts of the Canadian prairies each spring from wintering grounds in southern Texas and Mexico.
“Now is the best time to see the adult Loggerhead Shrikes because they are constantly on the search for food, to feed their ravenous chicks who are in the nest growing feathers and muscle in preparation for flight,” Shirley Bartz, Habitat Stewardship Coordinator with Nature Saskatchewan said in a release. “Their hunting strategies include perching high on a twig, hovering above a field and diving onto prey, or walking on the ground while flashing their white wing patches to startle prey into movement.”
The birds eat mainly grasshoppers and other insects but will also eat mice, frogs, and snakes.
The shrikes impale their prey on thorns or barbed wire and use their hook-like beak to tear off edible bits.
“This is how they got the name Butcherbird, because they hang their meat like your neighbourhood butcher,” Bartz said.
Nature Sask. is asking anyone who sees a Loggerhead Shrike or impaled prey to call their toll free line at 1-800-667-4668 to help them monitor the population.