BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND AND EASTERN NEW YORK - HOFFMANN

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SHRIKES: FAMILY LANIIDÆ

MIGRANT [LOGGERHEAD] SHRIKE. Lanius ludovicianus migrans
9.00 in.

Ad.— Top of head and back ash-gray; black lines extending from sides of throat through the eyes and meeting over the bill; wings and tail black and white; under parts grayish-white. Im. in summer.— Top of head and back brownish-gray; breast washed with brownish; black lines hardly extending beyond the eye, and not meeting over the bill.

Nest, in a thick bush or tree, often a bawthorn bush. Eggs, whitish, thickly marked with brown.

The Migrant Shrike is a not uncommon summer resident of the Lake Champlain Valley. It breeds rarely in the rest of northern New England, and is a very rare migrant in southern New England and the Hudson Valley. Its habit of perching on the tips of trees or bushes, and its contrasting colors, gray, black, and white, make it easy to observe and recognize. It feeds on grasshoppers, frogs, and mice, and, to a certain extent, on small birds, and impales its prey on thorns. Its song is described as low and musical, and its call-notes as harsh and unmusical. The ordinary shrike in New England between October and April is the Northern Shrike. The Migrant is over an inch smaller than its relative, and the black marks in front of the eyes meet across the forehead.

[graphic]

Migrant Shrike



NORTHERN SHRIKE. Lanius borealis
10.32 in.

Ad.— Upper parts ash-gray, becoming whitish on the forehead, over the eye, and on the rump; a blackish stripe back of the eye, extending to the base of the bill, but not over it; wings and tail black and white; under parts grayish-white, crossed with dark wavy lines which show only at close range. Im.— Upper parts grayish-brown; wings and tail duller; under parts much more distinctly covered with wavy lines of dark gray.

The Northern Shrike is a winter visitant in New York and New England; rare in some years, not uncommon in others. It arrives in October, and leaves towards the end of March. Each Shrike, on its arrival from the north, apparently settles for the winter in a fixed region, which becomes its regular hunting-ground. Here one finds, during the winter, mice, small birds, and grasshoppers wedged in the forks of low trees or bushes, or impaled on thorny twigs, and occasionally a Shrike is seen dashing at a flock of frightened birds, and pursuing its victim till it is exhausted and caught. At other times it perches on the top of some tree or bush.

The Shrike sings occasionally all through the winter, but more often in February and March. The song is a medley of harsh calls, mews, and screams, never very loud, interspersed with some rather sweet notes; it suggests the song of the Catbird. Its call-notes are extremely harsh and grating:

A Shrike in adult plumage is unmistakable. Young birds lack the bright black and white of the adults, but they may be recognized by their rather plump look, habit of tilting the tail on alighting, and by the characteristic flight, two or three rapid wing strokes, followed by a scaling flight on set wings. A close inspection will show the heavy bill with its hooked tip. (See Mockingbird, and Migrant Shrike.)

[graphic]

Northern Shrike


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