Let’s talk about shrikes.
My first encounter with one was in Nevada. My family took a trip to Las Vegas in high school (great place for your teenage daughters, good choice parents) and we spent a day or two exploring the desert outside of the city. On one hike, when we stopped for a rest, we noticed that a spiny bush/cactus thing near us had tufts of gunky feathers and skin on many of its spikes.
A few minutes later, a small, fluffy bird flew towards us and landed on the bush, wriggling lizard in its beak. After shaking it for a few seconds, it proceeded to impale said lizard on a spike, with a great show of blood and guts. The lizard continued to wriggle around on its spike in pain.
Then the shrike sang a pretty song, fluffed up its feathers, and flitted away.
Typically shrikes use their hooked beak to sever the spinal cords of their prey, so this one must have gotten lazy. Shrikes impale their prey on spikes or sharp objects to make eating easier, since they are such small birds. Having a bush full of prey is something like having a refrigerator full of leftovers—it also allows the shrike to come back and just munch on something it’s already caught if it’s feeling lazy.
The ones pictured above are all loggerhead shrikes, native to North America.
It’s also known, appropriately enough, as the “butcher bird.”
I still think it’s kind of cute.
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