Northern Shrike, Lanius excubitor, Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, Tompkins Co., NY, 10 January 2001.

These pictures were taken by me with an Olympus D-460 digital camera through a (dirty) Kowa TSN spotting scope belonging to the Laboratory of Ornithology.


All photographs Kevin J. McGowan

This Northern Shrike turned up outside the Lab of Ornithology around lunch time, and was seen by a number of observers. Some of us were conducting important business at the time, but one of the nice things about attending meetings at the Lab of O is that the Director is a bird nut, and understands why people might want to take a 5 minute break to run outdoors.

The bird stayed high atop the mature trees in the area while I was there, so the photo quality is lower than I might hope. Still, the basic characters that define the species are visible.

Note the rather long bill with the prominent hook on the tip. Difficult to see in these photos is the pale base to the lower mandible. Still the longish bill and flat head shape distinguish this from a Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus). It is impossible to see any chest barring from this angle, but the faintness of the facial mask should be apparent. For a discussion of how to distinguish the two local shrike species, and pictures of Northern Shrike specimens that illustrate the characters, go to my Loggerhead Shrike page.


As may be visible from this photo, the bird vocalized several times. It made some buzzy calls, and some warbly mimetic type things too. Greg Budney of the Library of Natural Sounds tried to get some recordings, but he had not been successful by the time I left.

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Revised: November 02, 2001.