"Predatory Songbird"

Northern Shrike

northern shrike       On our Christmas Bird Count this year, we found a rare bird for southern Utah; a Northern Shrike, commonly known as the butcher bird. I still remember seeing my first Northern Shrike at Zion, when one of our local great birders, Ken Hinton, pointed out that the hooked bill made this a Northern Shrike. It was a spectacular find.

        In the olden days, most people had root cellars and smoke houses where they stored and prepared food for a time of need. Hams and sacks of beef jerky hung from the rafters; onions, potatoes, and carrots were stored on the floors. All this food stored to last through the winter and hard times. Just a few years ago, you could view whole carcases hanging in the butcher shop and pick the cut of meat from the animal you wanted. It was not uncommon to see a variety of animals hanging on display. Some fine grocery stores even had meat lockers with glass windows so you could see the animals hanging in the storage locker. With the advent of electricity, we now purchase our meat at the grocery stores in clean plastic containers, and conveniently store our food in freezers at home.

        The Northern Shrike kills and stores its prey prominently on thorns or barbed wire. This display reminded people of butcher shops.... hence the name "butcher bird". When attempting to attract a mate, the male Shrikes harvest grasshoppers, crickets, small rodents, and impales them on thorny trees or barbed wire fences to prove to the females that he is a great provider.

        This rendition of the Northern Shrike was done by Artist, Judy Warren. We appreciate her dedication and talents. For more information about the Shrike or other birds, call Marilyn Davis at 673-0996. The Red Cliffs Audubon General Meeting will be Wednesday, February 13, at 7:00 p.m. - Tonaquint Nature Center. Public is invited.

        FLASH: Today we had a sighting of a male Vermilion Flycatcher. If you see a small florescent red bird with black wings, thatís what it is. (Keith and Marilyn Davis)