Shrike On A Fence

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Loggerhead Shrikes are among my favorite photography subjects.  These fall-winter residents of southern Arizona are attractive little birds, with their sleek gray bodies and their “bandit” masks.  Getting a good shot at one is a challenge, and a problem that I haven’t yet completely solved.  These birds are extremely skittish and they rarely allow a photographer to come within range.  I’ve had most of my success — to the extent I’ve had any success — photographing shrikes by shooting them through an opened car window.  Attempting to approach one of these birds on foot is out of the question.

Recently, I captured this individual doing what shrikes often do, sitting on a fence post and surveying the adjacent farmland.

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Loggerhead Shrikes are inhabitants of open country.  I’ve never seen one of them in Tucson or its suburbs.  They prefer grasslands and agricultural fields where they can sit and watch for prey, either in the air or on the ground.  Shrikes aren’t raptors but they are fierce little predators, attacking insects, smaller birds, and small rodents with reckless abandon.  They carry the sobriquet of “butcher bird” because of their penchant for impaling prey on sharp objects — just the way a butcher hangs a cut of meat on a meat hook.

Image made with a Canon 5DS-R, 100-400 mm f4-5.6L ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, aperture priority setting, ISO 1000, f8 @ 1/1600.

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