Diet & Foraging

Loggerhead Shrikes are predatory songbirds. Insects make up to 68% of their diet, but they also hunt small vertebrates including amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds.

Shrikes kill their vertebrate prey by attacking the nape of the neck. Like raptors, shrikes have a sharp triangular tomial tooth on their upper break, which they use to quickly sever the spinal cord of their prey. However, they don’t have heavy talons to hold their prey. They solve this problem by impaling their prey on thorns, barbed wire or sharp twigs. This unique habitat has earned them the nickname “butcher birds.”

The species is well known for hunting from utility wires and along fencerows. They prefer foraging in open habitat with short grasses, forbs and bare ground and well-spaced shrubs and trees (preferably thorny ones) or barbed wire. Although they typically capture their prey on the ground, they are also known to capture flying prey like dragonflies and moths in the air.

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