The ‘Butcher Bird’
The Loggerhead Shrike is a North American passerine songbird that has experienced one of the most drastic declines among North American birds since the inception of the Breeding Bird Survey in the mid-1960s. This quirky bird (commonly known as the ‘butcher bird’ in reference to its unique behavior of impaling its prey for later eating) is one example of the larger songbird crisis currently unfolding. It is also a model for recovery.
North American populations of songbirds are declining steadily with more than one-third on a path to extinction. Unfortunately, there are many local (such as farming practices and use of pesticides) and global (such as climate change) causes. Regardless, North American songbirds are giving us a clear sign that something is wrong with the health of our environment.
Conservation in Action
C2S2 is collaborating with the Loggerhead Shrike Working Group to implement a range-wide recovery plan, with priority activities identified for both the wild population and conservation breeding population, including research objectives, additional potential partners, coordination needs, and funding sources.
With the long-term goal of quantifying shrike population trends and size range-wide, we are launching a citizen science initiative, the Shrike Force, starting with a presence/absence survey to determine which habitats the shrike is or is not occupying. Using a predictive model developed at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), we are able to identify locations where shrike are likely to be, helping C2S2 and its partners to scale/expand surveys and landowner engagement in the most efficient and effective manner.