Red-backed shrikes: Butcher Birds Or Just Fantastic Little Predators
Red-backed shrikes (Lanius collurio) are very similar to some other birds of prey like hawks and eagles. Especially regarding their beaks which are not only hooked but also toothed like that of a hawk.
Unfortunately, their feet aren't armed with the deadly claws of the larger birds of prey. In reality, Red-backed shrikes' feet seem to be more suited to perching on branches and wires than to killing.
So how do they solve this deficiency in case of some bigger prey such as lizard, bird or even mouse? They skillfully grasp their prey by the neck with their hooked beak, and then powerfully shake it to break the prey's spine.
What about in a case of prey they can't eat at once as it is too big? Well, Red-backed shrikes solve this situation »their way«. They impale their prey on thorns (in some places also on barbed wire) or wedge it between the branches. This way they store it for longer, repeated feeding.
Below you can see a Red-backed shrike perched on top of a vineyard pole in Slovenia. From this high position, it has an excellent view of its surroundings, which helps it to hunt more efficiently and increases the likelihood of its survival.
All images © 2017-2021 Sreco Tzar. All rights reserved.