Eastern Loggerhead Shrike in flight

WPC and partners African Lion Safari, Queen’s University, and the American Bird Conservancy have recently embarked on a series of Species Conservation Planning (SCP) workshops for the eastern loggerhead shrike. Led by the IUCN SSC Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG), this science-based, inclusive, and participatory planning process is intended to develop the best conservation plan possible to improve the status of this endangered bird and brings together more than 30 years of conservation efforts to chart a path for recovery based on the best available information.

The eastern loggerhead shrike, a predatory songbird, has undergone drastic population declines across its breeding range in northeastern North America. WPC has a long history with this unique and distinct subspecies. Since 2003 we have coordinated a multi-faceted recovery program in Ontario, including a conservation breeding and release program. Even with the success of the conservation breeding program at bolstering the wild population and preventing loggerhead shrikes from disappearing in Canada, more work is required to identify and address the causes of decline. Previous assessments suggest that the primary causes of decline occur outside of the breeding season, on migration routes and wintering grounds outside of Ontario. Given the shrike’s complex migratory pattern, a North American Loggerhead Shrike Working Group was formed in 2013 to facilitate international collaboration on research and conservation needs.

Working Group members have been collecting data using standardized population monitoring and coordinated colour banding of wild and captive-released shrikes, as well as feather sample collection for genetic analyses. These data help us understand connectivity between populations, and the drivers of decline over the full life cycle of eastern loggerhead shrike as they breed, migrate, and overwinter in different regions of eastern North America. Further, these data are essential to the planning process and will be incorporated into population viability analyses to develop population models and evaluate alternative management scenarios.

Over the next 12 months workshop participants – which include shrike experts from the field, zoos, NGOs, governments, universities, and the Working Group, as well as representatives from local communities, land trusts, and industries such as ranching and aggregate extraction – will determine key threats to eastern loggerhead shrike, set goals for population recovery, identify important habitat to protect or restore, improve current population management activities such as the conservation breeding and release program, and develop research questions to address specific knowledge gaps. These planning efforts will ultimately identify the most effective and practical conservation actions for the species, providing direction for the next phase of recovery.

The Species Conservation Planning process will benefit eastern loggerhead shrike through the development of a science-based, inclusive, and actionable conservation plan. In other words, this research will tell us, using information from the recovery efforts over the past 30 years, where and how we can most effectively recover eastern loggerhead shrike in Ontario and across the subspecies’ range.

– Dr. Amy Chabot, PhD

Research & Conservation Program Coordinator at African Lion Safari, Canadian Species Initiative Cofounder and Loggerhead Shrike Working Group Coordinator

Stephanie Winton

Canada’s New Noah and Species Conservation Planning Assistant – Canadian Species Initiative

Stephanie is the 31st Canada’s New Noah and is currently assisting the Canadian Species Initiative to build capacity for species conservation planning in Canada. Stephanie holds a master’s degree in conservation biology from Thompson Rivers University where she studied the impacts of road mortality on a threatened rattlesnake species. She has extensive experience working in conservation and research for species at risk reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds in Western Canada.

Stephanie Winton with snake