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Ornithological Presentation
Separating Northern Shrikes and Loggerhead Shrikes

Study skins from the collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences

by Adrian Binns 12/04

 

NORTHERN SHRIKE

Lanius excubitor

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE

Lanius ludovicianus

Name

Lanius from the Latin Lanio, meaning a butcher, from its habit of hanging prey on thorns. Hence the name Butcher Bird.

Excubitor from the Latin for guard or sentinel. Linnaeus thought that it looks out for the approach of hawks and warns little birds.

Ludovicianus: of Louisiana, no doubt where the specimen that Linnaeus used to describe this species came from.

Loggerhead.because its head is larger in proportion to its body than most birds.

Size

10 inches (overall larger and bulkier) 9 inches (on a good day)

Black Mask

Narrow mask. The upper edge tends to run through the eye. Distinctly reduced in front of the eye and no black extends across the forehead / above the bill.
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Broad black mask that extends above the eye, into the lores and wraps around the top of the bill (extending across the forehead).
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Eye Markings

Shows a white lower crescent below the eye. Above the eye it is white
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The eye is surrounded by black.
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Bill

Longer, more elongated with an obvious hook.
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Shorter, stubbier lacks the obvious hook
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Lower Manible

Base of lower mandible often is paler. All black bill.

Underparts

Faint gray barring. Be aware that juvenile Loggerheads also show this.
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Clean pale gray underparts
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Back

Paler Gray than on Loggerhead
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Darker Gray than on Northern
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Rump

Whitish, contrasting with gray back.
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Varies from Gray to Whitish, though often with less contrast between the back and rump than on Northern Shrike.
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Notes:

Tends to bob its tail and often hovers when hunting Shorter-winged and -tailed than Northern with quicker wing beats and less buoyant flight

Juveniles

Overall brownish with distinct brown scaling on underparts (usually until 1st spring). A dirty overall gray with fine barring on underparts (though this tends to disappear by the 1st winter) and a buffy wing bar

 

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