Have you ever wondered what loggerhead shrikes will be eating for Thanksgiving dinner?

Rebecca Hughes Sabac from Florida was surprised and fascinated one day to find this barn swallow impaled by none other than a resident loggerhead shrike. She thought at first that the swallow had accidentally collided with the barbed wire, but upon closer inspection she found that it had been impaled. After two weeks of monitoring the area she came across an impaled head from yet another swallow, which bore a strong resemblance to victims in scenes from ‘Game of Thrones’.   

Though loggerhead shrikes will typically eat and impale smaller items like grasshoppers, crickets, mice and voles, they’ll occasionally hunt bigger items like frogs, snakes, and other birds, and have been known to carry off almost one and a half times their body weight. They’ll impale their prey to keep it nice and secure while ripping off bite-sized chunks of meat.

Shrikes will also keep a larder of impaled prey to impress females, to help feed their young, and to ‘stake’ out their territory. It’s no wonder they’re nicknamed ‘butcher birds’!

The Loggerhead Shrike Recovery Team was extremely excited to learn that Rebecca was willing to share her experience, and were overjoyed to see that she managed to snap a special shot of the shrike gratefully digging in to his bounty!

Looks like we’re not the only ones who will be eating well this weekend!

Jane Hudecki

Conservation Breeding Coordinator – Eastern Loggerhead Shrike Program

Jane holds a Master’s degree in Animal Biosciences from the University of Guelph, where she studied building collision injuries in migratory songbird species. Jane worked as a rehabilitation supervisor, where she was responsible for the care, treatment, and reintroduction of injured and orphaned wildlife, including many species at risk.