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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Loggerhead Shrike -- Lanius ludovicianus


RANGE: Breeds from central Alberta, central Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba, Minnesota, central Wisconsin, central Michigan, and southeastern Ontario, south to Mexico and the Gulf Coast. Very rare or absent from most of the Appalachians, Pennsylvania, New York, and New England. Winters in the southern half of the United States and in Mexico.

STATUS: On the 1982 Blue List for declining species as a species of concern (mostly in the East); common in parts of the West.

HABITAT: Inhabits open country with scattered shrubs or small trees such as shelterbelts, cemeteries, farmsteads, or hedgerows in the plains country and Midwest. In the West, breeds in savannah, pine-oak woodlands, and chapparal types, and prefers very open stands.

NEST: Builds a bulky, cup-shaped nest in a variety of shrubs and low, dense trees, rarely less than 3 feet or more than 25 feet above the ground. Hides the nest well below the crown of the bush or tree.

FOOD: Sometimes hawks for aerial insects, but takes most of its prey as it dives to the ground from an elevated perch. In the West, eats about 83 percent insects; in the East, 68 percent. Eats mostly grasshoppers and crickets, but also a variety of other insects, small mammals, birds, and reptiles.

REFERENCES: Beal and McAtee 1912, Eckert in Farrand 1983c, Johnsgard 1979, Kridelbaugh 1983, Miller 1931, Morrison 1981, Porter et al. 1975, Tate and Tate 1982.


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