NATURE NOTES: Butcherbirds

A butcherbird scans its habitat from a high perch.

Have you ever heard of a butcherbird? If you haven’t, you might be picturing a murderous bird wielding a bloody ax. If so, you’re not off by much.

A butcherbird, otherwise known as a loggerhead shrike, is a songbird with raptor-like tendencies. It is about the size of a cardinal, but gray with black wings and tail and with a bandit’s black mask. Its head is large in comparison to its body size, which is where the name loggerhead comes from.

Susan Heath, Ph.D., is an avian conservation biologist for the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, 299 Highway 332 W. in Lake Jackson. Contact the observatory at 979-480-0999 or visit

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