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Today's article will be about a small passerine bird, the cruelty of which even Count Dracula would appreciate. Meet - gray shrike .
In appearance, these are cute birds, somewhat similar to sparrows, but larger. Their body length is 23-28 cm, and their weight is 60-80 grams. The color of the plumage is gray, the tips of the wings and tail are black, with a white edging, and on the eyes there is a black stripe resembling a mask.
Gray shrikes are common in the north of Eurasia and North America, they are also found in Russia, but quite rarely. They lead a partially migratory lifestyle, moving a little further south in the cold season to winter in milder conditions.
Shrikes use their voice to communicate, the singing of these birds pleases the ear. Most often they can be found on telephone poles, trees or rooftops, they always sit upright. In general, these birds look quite harmless, they are given out only by the hooked beak characteristic of birds of prey.
It is thanks to this disguise as a "good-natured" that the shrike manages not to attract too much attention to itself for a long time. He can look out the victim, even go down and fly up to her, and then suddenly attack and drag him to his "cutting table".
These birds are skillful and very reckless hunters. Insects and small vertebrates become their victims. Frogs, lizards, mice, rats and birds - they spare no one. Of greatest interest is the very process of hunting and butchering prey, which is characteristic of these feathered predators.
Most often, the shrike overtakes the victim with a vertical throw, after which it grabs with its claws and carries it to its lair. The den can be a bush with large thorns, a tree with sharp branches, or a fence with barbed wire, any of the options will do. There, the predator pricks the prey on needles and proceeds to the meal, eating it piece by piece.
Shrike often stock up on food for future use, hanging their bloody "garlands" everywhere. They also use this behavior to attract females, to show how good they are. It looks scary.
From an evolutionary perspective, this is not cruelty, but rather a necessity. A similar way of hunting is inherent in the entire family of shrikes, and there are 32 species of them all over the world. All of them are rather small birds, therefore it is difficult for them to keep prey a little smaller than themselves, so they fix it on all sorts of thorns and branches - it is more convenient for them. Nature rewarded owls, hawks and other predatory birds with a powerful beak and strong paws, but cheated the shrikes, so they adapted in their own way.
Despite the bloodthirstiness, the gray shrike's offspring are treated with trepidation. Chicks are nursed by both parents, alternately finding food for them. When the young grows up and leaves the nest, they keep close to their parents for some time and they sometimes feed them.
These are such curious birds, these shrikes. If you liked this article, then it might be interesting to read this one too:
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