📸 by @andresmigueldominguez

Southern grey shrike impaling her lunch.

Shrikes are small predatory birds with a gruesome but effective way of dissecting their prey.

Shrikes are known for their habit of catching insects and small vertebrates and impaling their bodies on thorns, the spikes on barbed-wire fences, or any available sharp point.

If you’ve ever come across a small animal skewered on any of these like they had an unfortunate encounter with a mini vlad the impaler, they kinda did.

Shrikes are roughly the size of a robin but they hunt like mini raptors – they’ll wait on top of an exposed perch and watch the ground below, diving onto their prey if/when it should make the mistake of being spotted.

However, unlike the raptors they so accurately mimic, shrikes lack talons and are unable to pin their prey down. This is a serious drawback when their prey is almost the same size and the shrikes themselves.

This act of impaling is hardwired into the shrikes dna and it helps them tear their prey into smaller, more conveniently sized fragments. These spikes also serve as a “pantry” so that the shrike can return to the uneaten portions at a later time.

Worldwide, there are 33 different species of shrikes. North America has 2: the loggerhead shrike and the northern shrike.



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