Mission: To promote the appreciation of wildlife and increase harmony between humanity and nature.

On Instagram and Twitter: @unionbaywatch

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Butcher by the Bay | A Halloween Special

Just before the darkness descended, Union Bay appears tranquil and idyllic, with beautiful homes and the fall leaves turning yellow, and not even the least hint of what is to follow.

Nearby, in the Union Bay Natural Area, the shadow of "The Butcher" could be seen outlined among the cold lifeless leaves of a nearly naked tree. According to Cornell's "All About Birds" website, the Latin name for this bird is, Lanius Excubitor, which is translated as "The Butcher Watchman".

This small bird, maybe 2 or 3 ounces, can look for all the world like just a pleasant little songbird.

Casually it looks to the right…

…then a bit to the left…

…before it checks out some movement...

…down in front...

… followed by a casual yawn. Cornell calls this delicate little creature a predatory songbird. You can hear its song on their site, "All About Birds".

However, when prey is detected, there is a rapid shift in focus and…

…The Butcher springs into action.

The Butcher may flutter among…

…the branches in the gathering darkness…

…or stalk the grass in silence but…

…the result…

…is nearly…

…always…

…the...

…same. Something has to die to feed the hunger of "The Butcher". Reportedly, this bird will even impale its living victims on sharp spines and leave them to be eaten later.

Sometimes what appears to be another casual yawn…

…is actually "The Butcher" coughing up the inedible remains of its latest victim.

So do not be fooled by what appears to be…

…all sweetness…

…and autumn light or…

...feigned awkwardness…

…or its diminutive size.

The Butcher is actually a killing machine…

…waiting and watching for its next victim.

I hope you had a Happy Halloween on Union Bay…where nature dies in the city!

Larry


PS: Just in case you are curious, in North America, this bird is called a Northern Shrike, while in Great Britain it is of course called, The Great Grey Shrike, 












4 comments:

  1. You tell and show great stories, Larry. What fabulous photos!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you! Your comments are very kind and appreciated. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey, you saw the bird I thought I saw but didn't! Loved the story and photos, Larry, thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome. I am glad you enjoyed the photos!

      Delete