[Tweeters] Shrike catches chickadee at Nisqually

Rachel RachelWL at msn.com
Thu Dec 30 19:45:30 PST 2010

Today at Nisqually, I was lucky enough to see a NORTHERN SHRIKE, almost
certainly the same juvenile reported yesterday by the Kelley Gang, catch
and eat a BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE. This is the first time I have seen a
shrike hunting. It all happened close to the end of the gravel road
leading to the new boardwalk.

A bit earlier, I had seen the shrike perched in a thicket near the end
of the boardwalk, but now it was coming from the opposite direction,
chasing the chickadee over the marsh grass. The chickadee led the
shrike into a thicket of small trees, where there was an agile,
high-speed chase in and out among the stems and branches, but it
couldn't shake off the shrike. The shrike somehow managed to drive the
chickadee down into the grass and I lost sight of them. In a few
moments the shrike reappeared with the limp chickadee in its bill, and
carried it to another tree across the road. It impaled the dead
chickadee on a short twig, and began to tear it apart and eat it,
re-impaling it whenever it became dislodged. I was pretty impressed by
how easily the shrike tore up the chickadee with that big, hooked bill.
After eating part of the chickadee, the shrike wiped its bill, preened,
and perched for awhile, until it spit out something black. I don't
think enough time had passed for an actual pellet to form (?), but after
spitting out whatever it was, the shrike immediately resumed eating,
plucking out bunches of the chickadee's feathers, including all of the
wings and tail. After more preening and perching, the shrike flew off,
leaving a small lump of chickadee, which I expect it came back to eat
later. What an amazing thing to see!

Rachel Lawson
RachelWL at msn.com

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