Loggerhead Shrike In Open Country

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I think that I’ve become addicted to photographing Loggerhead Shrikes.  I just love these birds.  They may be the most subtly beautiful of all of the birds that I photograph.

Here’s the odd thing about my addiction.  I almost never photographed shrikes until about six months ago.  It’s not that I didn’t want to photograph them but that I seldom saw them.  I deluded myself into thinking that they are uncommon.  That was incorrect. They’re actually a pretty common species in certain locations within an easy drive of Tucson.  I was looking for them in all of the wrong places.

Loggerhead Shrikes aren’t really a desert species.  These birds inhabit grasslands.  I had to drive to the grasslands of Sonoita and Patagonia, to the open farmlands of the Sulphur Springs Valley, or to the vast agricultural areas northwest of Tucson in order to see these birds.  Once there, I had remind myself to look at the right objects in order increase the probability of finding shrikes.  Loggerhead Shrikes, unlike some other perch-hunting species, often perch low.  Yes, they will perch on utility wires, but they seem to prefer lower perches like fences, posts, and small trees and shrubs.  They are also territorial, meaning that they tend to fly from and return to the same perch over and over.

I photographed this individual perching on a small mesquite a couple of weeks ago while driving through the Sulphur Springs Valley.  It was perching only about five feet above ground.

When I first saw the shrike it was sharing its perch with a second shrike, possibly its mate.  I hyperventilated at the thought of getting two birds in one image.  Unfortunately, the second bird flew before I could photograph the pair, leaving me with only one shrike to work with.  Nevertheless, I’m not displeased.

Images made with a Canon 5Div, 100-400 ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, aperture priority setting, ISO 500, f8 @ 1/1000.

2 responses to “Loggerhead Shrike In Open Country”

  1. Paule Hjertaas says :

    When the desert is not as dry as it has been the last winter, there have been a number of shrikes in the desert around Ajo and Organ Pipe. They often perch low but I have also seen them on top of saguaros. I think they will be more common where there are more preys so, I guess, the agricultural area likely wins that way, but they have been fairly common in the desert hen everything is not as dessicated as last year.

  2. Liesl Kii says :

    These are beautiful photographs, Steve. Congratulations on your fence-post find!

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