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Loggerhead Shrike
8 x 14

In 2010 I had the pleasure of hiking through the Anza-Borrego desert in California. While I was primarily looking for reptiles, there were several interesting bird species encountered. This Loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) was observed perching beautifully on the thorny stems of an ocotillo tree. The only thing missing from the scene was its meal. 

Loggerhead shrikes, also known as the "butcher bird", are a songbird with all the attitude of a bird of prey. It will feed on items much larger than one would think possible, including locusts, rodents, birds and reptiles. This bird's small stature and lack of large, raptor-like talons, however, put it at an obvious disadvantage in managing such large food items.

Not to be discouraged, this bird has learned to impale its chosen prey on thorns, sticks, or even barbed wire. With its meal securely fastened, it can then rip pieces off to ingest, or if it chooses, leave it in place and come back later to feast. I chose to highlight this unique behaviour in my artwork by adding a western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) that has been freshly impaled on one of the ocotillo stems.