[Tweeters] Seed-eating shrike

Randy Robinson rwr.personal at gmail.com
Tue Aug 13 13:35:37 PDT 2013


I got a note from a friend in Alaska about a shrike eating sunflower seeds
at a feeder. This is a competent birdwatcher who sent a picture of the
shrike at the feeder.

I can't find any reference to seeds as part of a shrike's diet. Has any of
you heard of this? See below for a description of the situation.

Thanks,
Randy Robinson
Seattle, WA

This summer in Southwest Alaska I put out a suet feeder for the first time,
along with my usual sunflower seed feeders. In previous summers I merely
put out the seed feeders. The suet feeder attracted a Northern Shrike,
which I didn’t find terribly surprising. However, after about three weeks
I spotted the shrike on the seed feeder, where it consumed sunflower seeds
at least several times per day. I am 100% sure I saw the shrike eating
sunflower seeds. It ate seeds directly from the feeder and also seeds that
had fallen to the ground.

The suet feeder wasn’t pure suet—it was loaded with seeds.

I did a quick search on shrikes and could not find any reports of shrikes
eating seeds. In fact most reports stated flatly that shrikes do not eat
seeds.

I had to wonder if the shrike was introduced to seeds via the suet and then
went on to give ‘pure’ seeds a try at the nearby seed feeder. Of course,
the shrike may also have been drawn to the seed feeder because small birds
& rodents also congregated there, nibbling away at the bounty.
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