Loggerhead shrikes, also known as “Butcher Birds”, are farm-friendly predatory songbirds with the peculiar habit of impaling prey on thorns or barb-wire fences. These birds prey on insects, small mammals, reptiles and birds.
The loggerhead shrike is one of West Virginia’s rarest birds, with only 15-20 pairs likely remaining in the state. They were once more common, but are now found only on pastures in the Greenbrier Valley.
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources staff, along with partners in other states, are working to better understand the plight of these birds, and are working with willing landowners to improve habitats on their pastures so shrikes might continue to persist in the Mountain State for years to come.
A large component of DNR’s work involves trapping and banding shrikes and collecting feather samples. This will enable DNR staff to better understand shrike behavior and movements, genetics and fitness. In the pictures above, staff are holding recently banded adult and juvenile shrikes. Photos were provided by Rich Bailey, state ornithologist.
If you graze cattle in Monroe, Greenbrier or Pocahontas counties and are interested in learning more about how you can help protect this fascinating bird, please contact Rich Bailey at Richard.S.Bailey@wv.gov.