“I believe in oneness of mankind and of all living things and in the interdependence of each and all. I believe that unless we play fair to the Earth, we cannot exist physically on this planet.”~Richard St. Barbe Baker.
It is not at all meaningless to speak about the Prairie Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus excubitorides). This unique small passerine bird is listed as threatened / critically endangered as the population has been steadily decreasing since the 1960s.
The Loggerhead shrikes love scattered shrubby growth, and will nest in Caragana, Manitoba Maple, and thorny vegetation such as Buffaloberry shrubbery. The Shrike breed along shelterbelts and riparian areas of the prairies. In this south west sector of the city of Saskatoon, botanists have confirmed that this species is documented for this region wherever there may be wetlands combined with open areas and tall shrubbery.
In order to thrive, and be resilient, the Shrike requires an open grasslands area to forage with elevated perches or lookout points about 4 meters high upon which to sit to facilitate their hunting activities.
The Loggerhead Shrike is quite unique in its dietary habits, as it does not confine itself to seeds, berries insect grub and larvae, but as a carnivorous bird, will capture amphibians, lizards, small mammals such as mice, and small birds. Due its small size, it impales its prey on barbed wire or the thorns of the Buffaloberry bush, which grows around the Chappell Marsh and West Swale wetlands. Though, the main food are grasshoppers, beetles, and rodents. It is only when these are hard to find, that the Loggerhead Shrike will forage for other animals.
How to identify the Loggerhead Shrike:
The wings are coloured black, with a white patch, and the head is quite unique with a mask across the eyes similar to a raccoon. The main colour of the Shrike is grey, with a white or pale breast. Shrikes are about 9 inches in length, and weigh in at 45-60 grams. The Loggerhead Shrike migrate here in March and April leaving after the breeding season from September to November. These birds will migrate nocturnally.
Outlook for the Shrike
Though it is truly unknown what has caused the numbers of the Loggerhead Shrike to plummet, ornithologists hope that by studying the birds and their habitat, the cause for their decline can be ascertained. Currently listed as a threatened species by Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, COSEWIC. it is a mandate to place the environment of the Loggerhead Shrike safe from destruction by conversion or development which may alter their prey populations. Scientists have also decided to place the Prairie Loggerhead Shrike as Schedule 1, Threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). It is also interesting to note that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature declared temperate grasslands the world’s most endangered ecosystem. * “Grasslands can also showcase how people and nature can coexist,” said Dan Kraus, a Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) scientist, “Among the last places on Earth to shelter grasslands at a meaningful scale are the grasslands of North America’s Great Plain…Endangerment comes down to risk — the risk of losing a species, habitat or ecosystem for future generations. *”
In the south west sector of the city of Saskatoon, it is a relief that remnant native grassland remains. Additionally, the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area affords wetland plant communities. The West Swale which passes through the large open wetlands and Chappell Marsh features many small scattered wetland areas, with more than adequate habitat and foraging for aquatic fauna, with belts of native and modified grasslands.
The Loggerhead Shirke, Lanius ludovicianus excubitorides during its breeding seasons, ie a “breeding Bird is characterized by: territorial behaviour; calling to competing male, mate or young; singing; courtship displays; carrying food or nest materials etc., and; presence of nest or young found incidentally. Between May 1 – Aug 15, the Loggerhead Shrike is protected 50 meters from low disturbance activity such as walking, and is protected for 250 meters from medium disturbances such as driving, and 400 m from roads, drilling, and other such high disturbance activity according to the Ministry of the Environment for Saskatchewan.
It is interesting to note how the City of Saskatoon’s citizens and residents regards conservation expectations or indifference to wildlife species such as the Prairie Loggerhead Shrike and their habitat. As Environment Canada states, “Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency, or any other jurisdiction alone. All Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the Loggerhead Shrike Prairie subspecies, and Canadian society as a whole.*”
The elected and appointed officials are:
The Honourable Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Honourable Scott Moe, Minister of the Environment
“Man has lost his way in the jungle of chemistry and engineering and will have to retrace his steps, however painful this may be. In doing so, perhaps he may be able to recapture the rhythm of life and the love of the simple things of life, which will be an ever-unfolding joy to him.” ~Richard St. Barbe Baker
Background Information ~ Status of Birds in Canada. Environment Canada. Government of Canada.
Bird ~ Status of Birds in Canada ~ Environment Canada. Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)
Eastern Loggerhead Shrike Wildlife Preservation Canada.
Loggerhead Shrike Wikipedia.
Loggerhead Shrike Life History, All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Loggerhead Shrike on a Fence. Sonoran Images.
Loggerhead Shrike American Bird Conservancy
Loggerhead Shrike Jeteliot
Saskatchewan Activity Restriction Guidelines for Sensitive Species. September 2015-1 Ministry of Environment. Government of Saskatchewan.
Recovery Strategy for the Loggerhead Shrike. Prairie Subspecies. (Lanius ludovicianus excubitorides), in Canada. Species at Risk Registry. Recovery Planning
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Environment Canada. 2015. Recovery Strategy for the Loggerhead Shrike Prairie subspecies (Lanius ludovicianus excubitorides), in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. iv + 23 pp.
Shrike Neil D. Murray
Thwarted Shrike Attack Birders Journey
For more information:
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, SK, CA north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque please to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund” (MVA RSBBAA trust fund) and mail it to Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area c/o Meewasin Valley Authority, 402 Third Ave S, Saskatoon SK S7K 3G5. Thank you kindly!
Twitter: St Barbe Baker
“Kind people have been expressing superlatives on my work. But I can assure you that anything which I have been able to achieve has been team work. We have a motto in the Men of the Trees. TWAHAMWE. It is an African word meaning ‘pull together’ and I pass this on to all those concerned with conservation in this country. I would like to call you to silence for a moment with the words of Mathew Arnold:
“Calm soul of all things, make it mine,
To feel amidst the City ‘s jar
That there abides a peace of thine
Men did not make and cannot mar. ”
~Richard St. Barbe Baker