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loggerhead shrike

loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) [state endangered]
Photo provided by SteveByland/

loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) [state endangered]
Photo © Alan Murphy Photography

Features and Behaviors

The loggerhead shrike is about nine inches long. It has a downward-pointing hook at the tip of the upper section of the bill. Its feathers are mainly gray with black wings, a black tail, a white patch on each wing, white under the beak and a black mask through and below the eye.

The loggerhead shrike lives in open areas, where it can be seen on wires, at the top of small trees and on other perches. This species eats insects, small birds, small rodents and other small animals that it catches and impales on thorns or barbed wire. Shrikes nest in trees of open areas, too, such as cedars, locusts and Osage orange. Those loggerhead shrikes that migrate through Illinois do so in spring starting in late February. It is thought that fall migration begins in July or August.

Reasons for Concern

Continued destruction of fence rows and thorny tree species and loss of their associated grasslands leave little habitat for this bird to occupy.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Laniidae

Illinois Status: ​state endangered, native

The decline of this species is believed to be due to the loss of habitat (hedgerows and pastures) and pesticide use on insects.