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Northern Shrike

Lanius excubitor ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: LANIIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A predatory songbird, the Northern Shrike breeds in taiga and tundra and winters in southern Canada and the northern United States. It feeds on small birds, mammals, and insects, sometimes impaling them on spines or barbed wire fences.

Appearance

Crows and Jays-like
Crows and Jays-like
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Medium-sized songbird.
  • Gray back.
  • Whitish throat and chest.
  • Black mask.
  • Large head.
  • Medium-long tail.
  • Stout bill with hook at end.
  • Wings black with white patch.
  • Tail black with white outer feathers.

Immature Description

Similar to adult, but more brownish, with more distinct barring on chest, and less distinct mask.

Range Map Help

Northern Shrike Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

  • Adult

    Northern Shrike

    Adult
  • Adult

    Northern Shrike

    Adult
    • © Dwayne Java, Maiden Park, Windsor, Ontario, Canada, November 2010
  • Adult

    Northern Shrike

    Adult
    • © Kirchmeier, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, July 2011
  • Immature

    Northern Shrike

    Immature
    • © Raymond Lee, Beaver County, Alberta, Canada, October 2011
  • Immature

    Northern Shrike

    Immature
    • © Reid Barclay, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, October 2010
  • Adult

    Northern Shrike

    Adult

Similar Species

Similar Species

  • Loggerhead Shrike is smaller overall, with a smaller, all black bill, and a fuller black mask that often extends across the forehead. Immature Loggerhead Shrike is gray, not brownish.
  • Northern Mockingbird similarly colored, but lacks the black mask and has a narrow, pointed bill.

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