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— Bryan

shrike-kills-chickadeeMurder and mayhem in Cabot, Vermont. Here we see a Northern Shrike re-attacking a Black-capped Chickadee, which it had earlier killed and left dangling at the gallows.

Shrikes aren’t raptors. They’re actually predatory songbirds. As it turns out, all songbirds are predators — if you consider insects, seeds and fruit prey species as well (which I do). But shrikes specialize in insects and small songbirds. And because their killing instincts are often bigger than their appetites, shrikes impale (cache) their prey on thorns, barbed wire or other projections.

Northern Shrikes breed in the taiga and tundra across much of Canada, and visit the U.S. only in winter. Our other shrike species, Loggerhead Shrike, breeds in grasslands across much of the continent. Loggerhead Shrikes used to breed in Vermont. But Loggerhead populations have declined in a big way with the decline of native grasslands across North America. Many thanks to Anson Tebbetts, who shot this video at the farm in Cabot on Sunday, February 8.

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