[Tweeters] shrike behaviour at the bird-feeder

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 31 08:43:09 PDT 2020


Dear Tweeters,
This morning, the 31st of March, something flew up from a scraggly little rhododendron at the corner of my house, as I was filling bird-feeders at 0745. Danged if it wasn't the juvenile Northern Shrike that had appeared here twice before over the past few weeks. The bird flew up a few feet, then landed on the grass, only about a seventh of a stone's throw from me. Then the shrike flopped about in a groggy sort of way. I figured there was something wrong with it. Perhaps it was weak with hunger after a long, breezy night of rain and snow. It flew up with much awkward flapping into a nearby pear tree, where it perched low. 
After filling the feeders, I turned around and took a look at the place where the shrike had been. This is a patch of bare, dry soil under the wide, southeast corner eaves, where my chickens like to dust-bathe. There on the dirt was the body of a Zonotrichia. It was wet, but in good condition, except that its head was half eaten away. I reckon the shrike had killed this sparrow and was feeding on it when I approached.
After a few more chores, I walked back over there, and the shrike was back in the dusty corner again. My rooster and most of my hens were standing around, watching the goings-on in their powder room. At my approach, the shrike flew up with the same gangly actions as before. It perched next to the feeders for a good while, allowing me to get some photos.
Now I am starting to think that the odd, weak-seeming manner of this shrike was a distraction device, a way to get me to follow the predator away from its prey item.
Yours truly,
Gary Bletsch
near Cockreham Island, Skagit County
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