Northern Shrike

    Related Articles


    The voice of the Northern Shrike (Lanius borealis) is a mixture of warbles and harsh tones with a Robin-like quality, heard especially in late spring. Unusual among songbirds, shrikes prey on small birds and rodents, catching them with the bill and sometimes impaling them on thorns or barbed wire for storage.


    What to look for:

    • Black tail with white edges
    • Faint barring on underparts and a bold black mask ending at the stout
    • Hooked bill
    • Pale gray above
    • Robin-sized
    • White below


    Like other northern birds that depend on rodent populations, the Northern Shrike’s movements are cyclical, becoming more abundant in the South when northern rodent populations are low. At times these birds hunt from an open perch, where they sit motionless until prey appears; at other times they hover in the air ready to pounce on anything that moves.

    Distribution & Habitat

    The Northern shrike prefers open woodlands and brushy swamps in summer, open grasslands with fence posts and scattered trees in winter. Its distribution range covers Alaska and the Labrador Peninsula to Quebec, Saskatchewan and N.British Columbia. It winters south to Virginia, Texas, and N. Carolina.

    Video Credits: Wild Bird and Nature Videos by McElroy Productions
    Image Credits: Mick Thompson


    Other Topics

    Austrian Black and Tan Hound

    History & Overview The Black and Tan Austrian Hound (Brandlbracke) counts as a true descendant of the "Keltenb...

    Great Gascony Hound (Grand Bleu de Gascogne)

    History & Overview The Grand Bleu de Gascogne also called as Great Gascony Hound and Great Gascony Blue,...

    Canine Chondrosarcoma

    What Is Chondrosarcoma? Chondrosarcoma is a malignant tumor that is characterized by the formation of cartilage by tumor...

    Herding Dogs

    Overview Herding dogs conduct livestock from one place to another by causing fear-flocking and flight behavior. They are...

    Portuguese Podengo (Podengo-português)

    History & Overview The Podengo Português is a national dog of Portugal. The breed traces its origins to...