Lanius excubitor

Mammoth Park, Westmoreland County, PA

27 February 2000

Mark A. McConaughy

The following photographs were taken with my digital camera held to the eyepiece of my spotting scope. The original shots were underexposed and I did lighten them up using image software. Due to this, the color is not quite true. The northern shrike was definitely a gray bird with light gray barring across the breast. It was an adult bird. There was no traces of brown or brownish tinge when observed directly thorugh the scope or binoculars. The brownish cast below is due to the underexposure and lightening process. The resolution of the camera also fails to show the light barring on the breast. I did take some 35 mm slides of the bird using the same technique and will be interested in seeing differences in resolution after the slides are developed.

It is presumed that this is the same northern shrike that was first seen during the fall of 1999 at Mammoth Park. It "disappeared" for a portion of the winter (presumably it was around, just not seen by any birders who could identify it). It was found again at Mammoth Park on 25 February 2000 by Dennis Lauffer. He saw it again on 26 February and then by participants on a Westmoreland Bird Club outting on 27 February when these photos were taken.

The northern shrike was very cooperative on 27 February. It was flitting around some small sapplings looking for food near the closed dirt bike track at the park. This kept it fairly close to the ground (it was usually seen in the tops of the taller trees in the fall). It was flicking its tail to keep its ballance on the small sapplings. We did not observe it actually eatting anything, but the shrike did dive into the grass several times and pop back up onto the sapplings. It probably was trying to catch insects sinced no small birds or mammals were seen in those areas.


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