South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Loggerhead Shrike

Lanius ludovicianus

Length: 9 inches Wingspan: 13 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Black mask, black hooked beak, gray upperparts, black wings, black tail with white edging

Loggerhead Shrike - Lanius ludovicianusThe Loggerhead Shrike is the smaller of the two Shrike species found in the state, and the one found here during the summertime.  The Loggerhead Shrike can often be found perching on a post or fence line as it searches for food.  Has the nickname of "Butcher Bird", because of its habit of impaling the bodies of prey items on spines of plants or on barb wire.  While usually returning later to consume the stored prey, the impaled prey may also serve as a territory marker.

Habitat: Can be found in nearly any open to semi-open country, as long as hunting perches are present.

Diet: Primarily feeds on large insects, especially grasshoppers and crickets.  Will also eat small rodents and small birds.   Less common prey includes fish, frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, and snails.

Behavior: Feeds by observing from a perch, and swooping down to capture prey when spotted.

Nesting: April through June.  The nest of a Loggerhead Shrike is a cup of sticks, weeds, grasses, and other material, lined with softer material such as hair, grasses, moss, and feathers.  The female lays between 4 and 8 eggs, and she alone incubates them.  When the eggs hatch, both parents help feed the young.  The young fledge after about 3 weeks, and typically stay with the parents for another 3 or 4 weeks after fledging.

Song: Loggerhead Shrike Song

Migration: Found year round in the southern half of the United States.  Birds in the Northern Plains and Canada move southward in the fall (including those in South Dakota). 

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Loggerhead Shrike sightings

Similar Species: Northern Shrike

Conservation Status: Populations have declined in recent decades.  Loggerhead Shrikes are now nearly absent from the Northeastern United States and locally elsewhere.  However, they still have a very wide geographic range and are common in parts of their range.  The IUCN lists the Loggerhead Shrike as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Loggerhead Shrike

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Loggerhead Shrike"

3) Loggerhead Shrike

Photo Information: December 10th, 2012 - Everglades National Park in Florida - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Loggerhead Shrike photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Loggerhead Shrike - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon summer resident, more common in the western part of the state.