Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 12, 2012 Loggerhead and Northern Shrikes north of Napanee.

Spent the morning birding the area north of Napanee in search of Loggerhead Shrike. This area is the last stronghold in eastern Ontario for the shrike. Over the past 40 years there has been a steady decline along the north edge of its range. As a teenager in the Ottawa area back in the early 70's the Loggerhead Shrike was a regular summer sight along back roads in the Shirley's Bay, Carp,  Dunrobin, Constance Bay, Kilmaurs, and Kinburn  area west of Ottawa and numerous nesting sites south of the Ottawa Airport. Unfortunately during the 80's there was a steady decline which carried into the 90's and by 2000 the only active nests were in the south west of Ottawa near Franktown along Hwy. 15 and along Montague Boundary Road off Roger Stevens Road. Since 2000 there has been only a few confirmed sightings of the Loggerhead Shrike usually during mid April and one nesting on the Quebec side of the Ottawa 50km district. Ben and I observed one along Huntmar Road near Richardson Side Road on April 20, 2011 and there was another sighting recently in the Dunrobin area on April 14, 2012. While looking for Loggerhead Shrike I found at least 3 Northern Shrikes in the same habitat and was able to photograph two of the birds. 
I spent a couple of hours driving around the various back roads number of Napanee/Newburgh and located 5 Loggerhead Shrikes including 3 colour banded individuals. It was great to watch them hunt insects successfully. In the general area there was a good number of Eastern Meadowlark, American Kestrel, Eastern Bluebird, and Savannah Sparrows. 

Adult Northern Shrike perched.

Immature Northern Shrike hunting.

Loggerhead Shrike

Colour banded Loggerhead Shrike.

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike with grub in beak. 

Loggerhead Shrike sign. 

Loggerhead Shrike sits on fence post as truck passes by. 

Loggerhead Shrike hunting along road side. Unfortunately many shrikes are hit by fast moving vehicles along county roads. .