Loggerhead Shrike - Lanius ludovicianus
Slightly smaller than the American Robin (Turdus migratorius
), the total length of this bird averages 23 cm. Males and females are similar in appearance. This species has a stout, hooked bill that has dark upper and lower mandibles. It has a broad black mask extending above the eye and thinly across top of bill. Its head and back are covered with a bluish-gray cowl, while its underparts and rump are white or grayish-white (underparts are very faintly barred in adults). It has a black tail with white tip and large white patches on black wings. Juveniles are paler and barred overall, with brownish-gray upperparts and buffy wing patches (Miller 1931, Fraser and Luukkonen 1986). Most nests are made of coarse twigs with a lining of plant material and animal hair (Fraser and Luukkonen 1986).
For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.
Loggerhead Shrikes differ from Northern Shrikes (Lanius excubitor) by having the base of the lower mandible black instead of pale, unbarred or barely barred underparts (adults), a shorter and less hooked bill, a darker head and back, and a more extensive black mask. They differ from the Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) by having a black mask and a shorter, less curved bill.
Western Hemisphere Range
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version)
Map Help and Descriptions
(direct evidence "B")
(indirect evidence "b")
No evidence of Breeding
(regular observations "W")
(at least one obs. "w")
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
In the Bozeman area, normal migration periods are April 20 to May 15 and August 10 to September 10.
Open landscapes with short vegetation, including pastures with fence rows, mowed roadsides, agricultural fields, riparian areas, and open woodlands (Yosef 1996). In Idaho, nests are found in sagebrush (65%), bitterbush, and greasewood, and are equally successful in all three (Woods and Cade 1996).
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 (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for
vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
- 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 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
- 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 listed as associated with 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 listed as 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.
Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific 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 assignment of common versus occasional association.
If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.
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: mtnhp.org/requests
) 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.
- 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.
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- Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems
Forest and Woodland Systems
Human Land Use
Recently Disturbed or Modified
Shrubland, Steppe and Savanna Systems
Sparse and Barren Systems
Wetland and Riparian Systems
- Occasionally Associated with these Ecological Systems
Human Land Use
Recently Disturbed or Modified
Diet includes arthropods, amphibians, small to medium-sized reptiles, small mammals and birds. Hunts from perch and impales prey on sharp objects. (Yosef 1996)
Highly territorial. Uniquely placed in the food chain as both a passerine and top-level predator. (Yosef 1996)
Loggerhead Shrikes nest from mid-June to mid-July (Davis 1961).
Declining across the continent, probably in large part due to changes in land use, spraying of biocides, and competition with species that better tolerate human-caused changes (Yosef 1996).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Davis, C.V. 1961. A distributional study of the birds of Montana. Ph.D. dissertation. Oregon State University, Corvallis. 462 pp.
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- Miller, A. H. 1931. Systematic revision and natural history of the American shrikes (Lanius). University of California Publications in Zoology 38(2):11-242.
- Woods, C.P. and T.J. Cade. 1996. Nesting habits of the loggerhead shrike in sagebrush. Condor 98: 75-81.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
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- Additional Sources of Information Related to "Birds"