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February 18, 2017 – Northern Shrike

Ingrid has been birding for 20+ years and had never seen a Northern Shrike. This fact has always bothered her . . . to the point that its dribbled into our day to day life: “Ethan, why don’t you ever pick up your socks and how come we never see a Northern Shrike????”


The Northern Shrike is a winter vistor to Maine, spending the summer breeding in Northern Canada. The Northern Shrike is nicknamed: “Our Carniverous Song Bird” and “The Masked Bandit” . . . the former because it preys on birds, rodents and insects and the latter due to its distinctive cartoon burglar mask.

The field books call the Northern Shrike “Rare to Uncommon” so seeing one is not easy. Yet. it’s remarkable how many serious and causal birders have spotted the Shrike on a barbed wire fence or taking down a Goldfinch near a birdfeeder. They tend to be spotted in pastures and marshy areas on small trees, posts and shrubs.

Back to Ingrid . . . every time we are out in the car and drive by a pasture, field or marsh her eyes become glued out the window as she repeats the “this seems like Northern Shrike territory” refrain.

Today Ingrid finally got her Northern Shrike . . . she spotted him as we drove by end of the Knox Country Regional Airport runway in Thomaston.

We watched him for about 10 minutes from about 50 yards away. His signature tail flick was evident and he was very alert, head turning as he looked for prey. After a while he flew to a closer bush and then down the runway. Very exciting!!!!

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