Loggerhead Shrike, nesting in Regina (location undisclosed)
This seems to be my year for Loggerhead Shrike nests. A birder friend called a few weeks ago after he started seeing shrikes near his workplace on the edge of the city. That got me curious because I remembered them nesting not far from the same location back in the early '90s not long after we realized the species was in trouble.
Officially on the Endangered list, the shrike--a predatorial songbird--has been declining steadily over the last 25 years across its range in the grasslands of North America. When Ed first called and I went to look a couple of weeks ago, I found two adults on a chain link fence along a line of small trees. I took a couple of photos including this one and the one above . . .
. . . and then both birds flew directly into a nest in a tree near the edge of a paved parking area. Here they are at the nest (I was sixty metres away to take this shot to be sure to avoid disturbing them).
I quickly backed away and decided to return when the young were fledged and flying, less vulnerable to the intrusions of a photographer. Ed kept watch on his way to and from work and then called this week to say, "I saw at least one young one with the parents. You should come this week."
Last night I returned with the camera and met Ed. The two of us looked around and initially found one fluffy fellow on a lump of dirt.
The two adults were nearby and I took a couple of more photos and looked for other fledglings. It seemed like there was only the one. After a while, I decided to leave, but as I opened the car door, I heard some loud begging noises coming from the parking lot. There were two more young ones sitting on the pavement. Here they are mouths open, calling to be fed.
One flew up into a nearby spruce tree to get some food from a parent (on the right with the heavier mask).
Here is a close-cropped shot showing the soft plumage of the young shrikes.
And a final shot of an adult flying away over the lawn to get more bugs to feed the young. Right about now, I am feeling very grateful that there are still some of these graceful and fierce little birds on the Regina Plains. May we find a way to let there be more.