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Northern Shrike - Lanius excubitor

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Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5N

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:
FWP Conservation Tier: 3
PIF:

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Copyright by Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, all rights reserved.
 
General Description
Medium-sized, length 23 to 25 cm, wing span about 30 to 35cm, relatively long-tailed appearance. Typically perched atop a tall tree or shrub surveying its world. Adult gray above and white below, with contrasting pattern of black and white on wings and tail, black mask, and white rump. Heavy black bill toothed and hooked at tip. Sexes similar, although female may average slightly duller black in wings and have less pure-gray upperparts, sometimes discernible when mates seen together (Cade and Atkinson 2002).

General Distribution
Montana Range



Western Hemisphere Range

 


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 1719

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

Breeding
(direct evidence "B")


Breeding
(indirect evidence "b")


No evidence of Breeding
(transient "t")


Overwintering
(regular observations "W")


Overwintering
(at least one obs. "w")



 

(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)



Migration
In the Bozeman area, normal migration periods are October 15 to November 1 and March 10 to April 10, with a peak on March 25.

Habitat
Nests throughout taiga and taiga-tundra ecotone of Alaska and Canada, where suitable trees or shrubs occur in association with open landscapes and in willow, alder and poplar stands that extend beyond spruce line into tundra zone. Winter range in areas farther south in southern Canada and U.S. Includes coastal wetlands and estuaries, savannas, forest edges, Great Basin shrub deserts and edge with forests, Great Plains and edge with forests and deciduous woodlands, especially where trees and shrubs planted as shelterbelts, and mixed agricultural-suburban-woodland associations of the former eastern deciduous forest region of mid-western and e. U.S. and s. Canada.

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at bmaxell@mt.gov or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Mostly arthropods by number, but small mammals and birds, rarely reptiles, make up the bulk of the Northern Shrike's diet. Especially in winter, it is a determined pursuer of small birds and mammals (Cade and Atkinson 2002).

Reproductive Characteristics
Nests in deciduous trees/shrubs built before new leaves develop, usually obvious and exposed at first, but concealed by new growth before young leave nest. Nests in conifers well concealed and protected by overhead cover. Eggs ovate to rounded-ovate, ground color grayish white to greenish white, usually heavily blotched or spotted. Clutch size is probably 4 to 6 eggs. Nest construction begins soon after arrival in late April- early May. In Alaska, earliest egg-laying May 5. (Cade and Atkinson 2002).

References
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Citation for data on this website:
Northern Shrike — Lanius excubitor.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on April 21, 2014, from http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/detail_ABPBR01020.aspx
 
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