Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Loggerhead Shrike

John T. Alsop Jr. Bridge
Jacksonville, FL
I recently spent a few days in Jacksonville, FL for a conference. The conference was taking place right on the river in downtown, so I wasn't expecting to see much for wildlife. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a pair of loggerhead shrikes had made their home in the trees along the trail by the river. I observed the pair with a begging fledgeling one afternoon, and was sad I didn't have my camera because the pair didn't seem to care how close I was to them or their baby. I decided to go back to the area the next morning with my camera, hoping to just get a few shots of these fascinating birds. Now, before I continue, I should explain that shrikes are often referred to as butcher birds because they are known for catching their prey (lizards, bugs, etc.) and then impaling it on sticks, or more commonly today, barbed-wire fences; then they proceed to eat their meal. They use this technique because they do not have the large feet and talons like other birds of prey, so they find other ways to hold their food in place.

Fledgeling loggerhead shrike
So, I was following the pair and fledgeling around, trying to get a good view and therefore a good photo. Then, one of the parents brings the begging baby a brown anole (an invasive species that is very abundant in Florida). The fledgeling takes the lizard from the adult and proceeds to take it down to the dead branches below (only 15-20 feet away from me at this point). It then starts to practice its impaling technique on several of the branches! I was able to get some decent photos, but it's even better in video! After the fledgeling was done with its meal, the adult came back with another lizard, but this time it just ate it whole. Apparently it was too much work the first time around.

The brown anole after the fledgeling was finished.
Not sure why it didn't eat it all.