Wildlife Preservation Canada’s Shrike Team was in a twitter earlier this month after receiving word that a loggerhead shrike was spotted at the tip of Port Weller East Pier in St. Catharines, Ontario. Birders flocked to the area when the shrike was first reported (many getting up at the crack of dawn), thrilled at the chance to catch a glimpse of the Niagara region rarity. Everyone kept a safe distance and observed the shrike hunting grasshoppers and dragonflies at the tip of the pier, seemingly unaffected by its newfound fame.

Radio-tagged shrike at the tip of Port Weller East Pier looking dapper. Photo by Dan Pay

It didn’t take long for observers to notice that the bird was sporting a radio tag. When photographer Dan Pay saw that the shrike was also outfitted with a numbered leg band he switched to his high resolution camera in hopes of reading the numbers. While making sure to keep a safe distance Dan was able to get a picture that revealed a partial band combination.

A close-up of the bird’s stainless steel leg band revealed a partial band combination that gave us some information on the bird’s origin.

Dan reported the pictures and sighting details to the shrike team, who quickly got to work to determine who the bird could be.

The bird was sporting a radio tag, which told us that it was one of 12 hatch-year juveniles of captive origin that received a radio tag transmitter this year before release.

The size of the band and the numbers that could be made out from the picture told us that the bird was released from our field site in Carden Ontario on August 18th. This bird originated from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, a partner facility in our Conservation Breeding and Release Program.

This shrike travelled from the Carden area (near Orillia) to Port Weller East Pier (in St. Catherines) over a span of about two weeks. 

Photo by Dan Pay

Discovering that the bird was released from Carden a few weeks before being spotted at the pier was very exciting for us, since it meant that the shrike was well on its way south for the winter and had passed safely through the Greater Toronto Area, which can be quite the dangerous hurdle for a migrating bird. The shrike is radio-tagged, so we will have a chance to gather more information on its migratory journey eventually, but in the meantime it was fantastic to receive reports that the bird was hunting and behaving the way a shrike should. The last time a shrike was observed in the Niagara Region was in 1967, so this was a very significant sighting for those in the area and for the recovery team at WPC. We have our fingers crossed that this shrike has a safe winter and returns to Carden in the spring to breed. Good luck little buddy, you’re doing great!

If you spot a shrike, we’d like to know about it! Send your sightings to birds@wildlifepreservation.ca. If you’d like to know more about our recovery program, visit our website at www.wildlifepreservation.ca/eastern-loggerhead-shrike-program

We hope this shrike has a safe winter and returns to Carden in the spring! Good luck! Photo by Dan Pay

Jane Spero

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.

Make a Donation

Show your support for endangered animals today. Your gift will go directly to our work on the front line of animal conservation.