Posted by: atowhee | February 20, 2022


Nora the Dog and I found this Northern Shrike at Mill Creek Drive SE and Henningsen Court SE, Salem. My subconscious said as the image first flashed past–oh, there went a mocker. But a second later, I adjusted and said to myself…wrong place for a Mockingbird. Then I saw the figure perched and got some images with my little point-n-shoot. Like ever with shrikes there was perchuing, with constant surverying in all directions. Then a jet streak to a possible victim, or off to another perch. This bird worked both east and west of Mill Creek Drive but returned more than once to this intersection. Plenty of shrubs and willows that gave it perch choices about six to ten feet off the ground, as desired in shrikedom. Likely the same one Roy Gerig spotted a couple weeks past. The thin eye brow made me wonder if it were a yiubng one but Paul Sullovan assures me it would be browner if it were juvie.

Most of my previous sightings of this bird were in southern Oregon. I have two previous sightings in the Willamette–November, 2013 at Finley NWR and November, 2015, at Baskett Slough. Years ago I saw it several times in Northern Europe. The Brits call it “Great Gray Shrike” and it has several shrike cousins including the very spiffy looking Woodchat Shrike. Here in North America its breeding range is essentially north of the tree line. Fossil fuel exploitation by our species in Alaska and Canada is not helping these birds survive.

Tim Johnson tells me there’ve been few single shrike sightings on the Salem CBC is recent years. Sightings in 2018, 2015, 2012. There’s been a precipitous fall-off of shrike-in-sight since the 1970s. This is another tragic tale of a grassland bird species in decline. In the 70s and 80s the annual Salem CBC often had mutliple sightings. The record high count was six in 1980. The last time more than one was seen–1992. Key detriments to shrike: pesticides and loss of habitat.
Nora let me nominate the shrike as bird-of-the-day, even though the most eye-grabbing images of the day came from our own front garden when this male Townsend’s came down to look us over:

Other birds of interest along Mill Creek Road: a roughie, singing meadowlarks, couple hundred Cacklers mowing a lawn.

Cackling mowing and fertilizing grass.

Not only did the bold warbler surprise and please, another surprising pair showed up, not as pleasing:

SALEM CBC AREA #1, Marion, Oregon, US
Feb 20, 2022
23 species

Cackling Goose  X
Canada Goose  2
Mallard  X
Green-winged Teal  80
Ring-necked Duck  X
Common Merganser  X
Ruddy Duck  40
Pied-billed Grebe  X
Clark’s Grebe  1     Turner Lake
Eurasian Collared-Dove  X
American Coot  X
Killdeer  5
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Double-crested Cormorant  3
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Rough-legged Hawk  1
American Kestrel  1
Northern Shrike  1     At Mill Creek Drive SE and Henningsen Court SE
American Crow  5
Common Raven  2
European Starling  200
Song Sparrow  1
Western Meadowlark  5

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
Feb 20, 2022
16 species

Mourning Dove  X
Downy Woodpecker  1
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  X
Bushtit  X
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
House Sparrow  2     first this year here
Lesser Goldfinch  20
American Goldfinch  12
Fox Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  30
Golden-crowned Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  1
Spotted Towhee  1
Townsend’s Warbler  1

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