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Loggerhead Shrike - BirdForum Opus

Photo by rb stern
Sanibel Island Causeway, Florida, USA, November 2003
Lanius ludovicianus


Length 9 inches (18-22 cm), weight 43-54 g
Gray head and back, white under parts, broad black face mask extending narrowly across above the bill, black bill. Wings and tail black with white flash at base of primaries; scapulars gray with white tips (white varying in width between different subspecies). Juvenile finely barred.

Similar species

Photo by Stanley Jones
Galveston Island State Park, Texas, USA, June 2015

Northern Shrike differs in being slightly larger and longer-tailed, and with the black mask never extending onto the forehead.


Photo © by DJ ODOnnell
Loveland, Colorado, USA, 9 May 2021

North America (north to south-central Canada) and Mexico. Populations in south, west, and east USA resident, those in north-central USA and Canada migrate a short way south in winter. Canadian and eastern populations declining; no longer breeding in the northeast US, where now a scarce passage visitor.



Eleven subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • L. l. gambeli: Western North America (south-western Canada to south-western US); winters to western Mexico
  • L. l. excubitorides: Great Plains region of North America; winters to southern Mexico
  • L. l. migrans: Eastern North America (south-eastern Canada to eastern Texas); winters to north-eastern Mexico
  • L. l. sonoriensis: Arid south-western US to north-western Mexico (northern Durango and southern Sinaloa)
  • L. l. anthonyi: Northern Channel Islands (off southern California)
  • L. l. mearnsi: San Clemente Island (off southern California). ±13 birds in wild 1999
  • L. l. grinnelli: Southern California (San Diego County) and northern Baja California
  • L. l. nelsoni: Southern Baja California
  • L. l. ludovicianus: Coastal south-eastern US (Virginia to Florida)
  • L. l. miamensis: Southern Florida
  • L. l. mexicanus: Central Mexico (southern Tamaulipas and Nayarit to Oaxaca)

The subspecies differ mainly in the tone of gray; generally darker in the south of the range and paler in the north, but southern Florida birds also pale.


Semi-open areas with scattered shrubs and rough grass; also uses fence lines and utility poles in low-intensity agricultural land.



They nest in a dense tree or shrub. The female lays 4 to 8 eggs in a bulky cup built from twigs and grass.


Diet includes large insects, also rodents and small birds.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1