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You’ve Seen The Butcher
πŸ“½ by @jose_manuel_hiniesto

Great grey shrike (AKA the northern shrike)

It would be very easy to mistake the great grey shrike (or any shrike for that matter) for a harmless songbird. To the untrained eye these small passerine creatures might slip under your radar as just another tiny, grainivorous bird going about its business.

However, these small “butcher birds” are so nicknamed not for their hunting strategy, but for they way they dismember their prey.

Similar to large raptors, the beak of the eastern grey shrike has a small hook on the end of it, and just like larger birds of prey, they use it to hook in and rip their unlucky quarry apart.

One thing they are not equipped with are the taloned tootsies that raptors have, which would come in handy in holding down the defeated as they put their little hooked beaks to work.

If they were larger they might have an easier time, but these tiny terrors top out at 80g (0.17lbs) hardly enough to hold their food in place while they shred it.

Luckily for them, they figured out a way to have their flesh and eat it too!

By impaling their prey on a thorn or the pinchy bits of a barbed wire fence, they can casually rip and tear (or butcher πŸ™‚ the doomed to their hearts content.

These spikes also serve as a pantry for the shrike, where the remnants of their kills can be revisited and fed upon whenever they might need.

Its one thing to read about it, its another thing entirely to see them in action.



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