Shrikes are predatory songbirds (order Passeriformes, family Laniidae) with hooked beaks. Their plumage is usually a combination of gray, black and white. This family of about twenty-nine species of thrush-sized birds occurs in the Northern Hemisphere and Africa. Many of them cache their prey (small rodents, birds and insects) on thorns or twigs, rather than eating it immediately. Both North American species are known from Saskatchewan. The loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) is a fairly common summer resident of the grasslands and aspen parklands which nests in shelterbelts and shrubby areas. It sits on an exposed perch watching for prey; its black wings with a white central patch are visible when flying. The Northern shrike (L. excubitor) is an uncommon winter resident in the southern two-thirds province; there are a few reports of summer residence and nesting in the northwest corner. It is very similar to the loggerhead shrike in appearance, with a gray back and black mask and tail, but the underside is grayish due to fine barring.

Diane Secoy

Further Reading

Alsop, F.J., III. 2002. The Birds of Canada. New York: Dorling Kindersley.