red-backed shrike the butcher bird

  • Nick Martin

red backed shrike

When I was a young lad pouring over my early bird books, there were a few that stood out. The birds with exotic plumage, owls and raptors were amongst my favourite characters. One though was small and fierce and gruesome, all the best traits according to a small boy' the 'butcher bird'!

Red Backed Shrike 5

The red-backed shrike used to be a widespread summer visitor to the south of England but a decline throughout the 20th century meant that by the time I first picked up a pair of binoculars it was long gone as a breeding species and only an occasional vagrant.

Red Backed Shrike 6

When a stunning little male red-back shrike arrived at Sutton Park not far from home it seemed like fate that I should pay him a visit.

Red Backed Shrike 2
the shrike was quite unperturbed by a regular passage of joggers and dog walkers

Red Backed Shrike
Shrike On Grass Vertical
perching in the favoured trees watching out for opportunities to  snatch an insect from the grass or the air.

Shrikes get their nickname butcher bird from their habit of impaling prey on thorns. This one ate mostly bees but had also been seen catching mice, lizards and even chasing small birds. The shrike uses the thorns to hold the prey while butchering it, once the choice bits are consumed the remains are left as a macabre display.

Red Backed Shrike 3
fantastic views and so good to connect with this charismatic little bird.


More About Nick Martin

All things Wildlife

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Enter your email address below. See Privacy Policy.

© All Things Wildlife 2020
All images on the site are subject to copywriter and may not be copied or reproduced without written permission.