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Birds of the St. Croix River Valley: Minnesota and Wisconsin



Northern Shrike -- Loggerhead Shrike

Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor)

Status: Regular migrant and winter resident.

Migration: Uncommon to rare migrant throughout the Valley. The first fall migrants arrive in the Northern Highland 20- 30 October, reaching the Western Upland 1-15 November (earliest-22 October 1976, St. Croix County). This species is most frequently encountered 20 November to 10 January. During spring migration, peak numbers occur 1- 15 March and departure by 15 April (latest-26 April 1953, Burnett County).

Winter: Rare winter resident throughout the Valley, most regularly observed in the Western Upland and Central Plain.

Habitat: Primarily a species of semi-open natural habitats and agricultural communities during migration and winter. Most northern shrikes are observed perched near the edge of wooded habitats and open fields or along fencerows and highway rights-of-way. The northern shrike is observed infrequently in coniferous habitat including Lowland Coniferous Forest and Black Spruce-Tamarack Bogs.

Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)

Status: Regular migrant and nesting species, accidental in winter.

Migration: Formerly common throughout the Valley, this species is now rare during migration. The spring migration period extends from early April (earliest-27 March 1954, Burnett County) through early May. Fall migration occurs from late August through mid-October (latest-2 November 1972, Burnett County). Caution must be exercised when identifying shrikes during April and October, because their plumage is similar to the northern shrike.

Nesting Season Distribution: Formerly a fairly common breeding species; breeding was documented as far north as Solon Springs in Douglas County. Jackson (1943) noted that "several birds were seen in the open pine barrens five miles south of Solon Springs on 4 August 1919, where two families of full grown young were located." Within the last 15 years, however, the status of the loggerhead shrike during the nesting season has changed. Erdman (1970) summarized the status and distribution of this shrike in Wisconsin, concluding that it was experiencing a statewide decline. Erdman provided information on a nest site near Clayton, Polk County, that is now the northernmost location in the Valley. Loggerhead shrikes were observed in southern Pine County during the 1974 nesting season (Eckert 1974). However, no nests or young were found.

During 1977, I located two nesting pairs that produced five young in St. Croix County. In 1978, five pairs were located in that county, primarily between Roberts and New Richmond. I observed an additional pair during July about 6.4 km south of Lake Elmo, Washington County.

Winter: There are two records of the loggerhead shrike during winter including one bird in Washington County on 1 January 1976. R. E. Faanes observed the other bird hunting near a bird feeder in Hudson, St. Croix County, on 15 February 1978.

Habitat: Primarily a species of edge habitats including fencerows, thorny hedgerows, and brush areas associated with grazed deciduous woodlots. Current clean farming practices, including fencerow removal, may be responsible for some of the decline observed in the breeding population.

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