Monday, February 4, 2013

grisly death scene discovered

Imagine you are a least shrew scampering through the curried remains of last year's hayfield. Nonchalant. Minding your little rodent business, out for a lark. Your golden fur helps you blend into the dried grass.

Now imagine, if you will, a songbird that thinks it's a raptor, with all the inherent intenseness of the skilled hunter, a blood-thirsty carnivore looking for fresh meat.

The two will soon meet. One will die. It's kismet. 

The bird resembles a mockingbird, just not as sleek, not as musical, larger-headed with a short hooked bill to rip apart flesh and shrew sinew. It even has similar mockingbird coloration except it sports a black mask like a bandit or Zorro or the Dread Pirate Roberts.

Grisly death scene at New Market
But, the odd thing, the Hannibal Lecter thing, that separates it from other native raptors besides its small size is that this songbird does not always eat its kill but rather has the macabre behavior of storing away its overage by impaling it on tree thorns or the sharp barbs of a barbwire fence. 

Then that's the scene. You've just imagined the world of loggerhead shrike

Last week, Shearwater and I went searching for the shrike that had been reported along US-11E in New Market. And after awhile, realizing we were not going to find it, decided to search for any sign that it had been there. 

"Vlad the impaler has been here," said Shearwater.

Within a minute, we began to find the impaled corpses of small rodents along the fence row; the grisly larder of a very interesting songbird. Treat it with respect. 

ATTENTION!! If you are a quarter-ounce least shrew (Cryptotis parva), study this video by Argent Savannah very carefully. This is what to watch out for. Be forewarned!

1 comment:

Marie said...

He looks and sounds so sweet! I've always been fascinated by this bird.