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Critter of the Month

Critter of the Month - SEPTEMBER


The Loggerhead Shrike is among one of North America's most-threatened grassland bird species. Once common throughtout much of North American, it's population has decreased 74% here in Tennessee in the last 40 years. Loss of traditional farming practices to more intensive agriculture ones, development and succession of grassland to forest seem to be some of the contributing factors to this decline.

Also known as the "Butcher bird" because of it's habit of impaling it's food on barbed wire fences or thorns, the Loggerhead Shrike uses it's hooked bill to kill insects, lizards, mice and even other songbirds as prey. This robin-sized, "chunky" songbird has a large head, a black mask on it's face and its wings are black with white patches. Both males and females look the same. Northern Mockingbirds are similar in color and sometime mistaken for shrikes.

Loggerhead Shrike habitat includes short grasslands with isolated trees or shrubs for cover and nest placement. They prefer pasturelands and old fields where they can hunt for their prey from a high perch.

TWRA and orther partners in our state have joined The Eastern Loggerhead Shrike Working Group to study and address the decline of this species in Tennessee in hopes of conserving the present population and ultimately reversing the trend of decline.