The Butcher Bird!

Loggerhead Shrikes are songbirds that have the hunting habits of a raptor. They are nicknamed “Butcher Birds” because they will impale prey on thorns and barbed wire for later (and easier) consumption. They are birds of the grassland and open woodland, and are permanent residents in southeast Missouri but can be found statewide, albeit with less frequency. The name Loggerhead means a large, blocky head, which is a key identifier of this bird. Note it’s large talons and hooked bill, common for a raptor, but unusual for a songbird. Fledgling shrikes are known for their playful behavior. They can be seen practicing the skills that will aid them later in life. Adult shrikes are clever enough to hang poisonous insects on a thorn for a few days, allowing the toxins to break down before it’s ready to eat. Shrikes are an unusual and interesting mix of songbird and raptor, and a welcome addition to any checklist. Look for Loggerheads in any area that has open prairie, grassland, or old fields with scattered shrubs and low trees. The more shrubs and trees with thorns and spiky branches, the better. They will also use the barbs from barbed wire, so check along fence rows as well.

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike