Snow and shrikes.

Well…another day, another heavy snowfall warning:  this time we’re not at all fondly anticipating 25 cm (almost 10 inches) of the white stuff.  My flowerbeds are still covered in snow from the storm we had on Thursday!  Grrrrr….!   Caught between bouts of precipitation (and my struggle to learn patience), I took the time to head out for a long walk in Nose Hill Park yesterday.  I kept thinking back to last year around this time, when a similar trek uncovered hundreds of wild crocuses peeking out from the grasses…sigh.

IMG_5539(1) cropped

No wildflowers here….


(I have to apologize for the blurry photo – this was a handheld shot).  I’m uncertain whether this is a northern shrike (Lanius excubitor) or a loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) – if anyone can assist, I’d be grateful.  I’m horrible with bird ID, and I’ve actually never seen a shrike before.  According to the Alberta Birds Facebook page, a great many shrikes have been sighted all over northwest Calgary, Cochrane, and the recreational area of Big Hill Springs in recent days.  My bird book tells me that the northern shrike tends to stick to habitat in the far northern reaches of the province, and I don’t know if it is common behaviour for them to head south at this time of year.   I didn’t realize that these birds were so vicious – an entry in John Acorn et al’s Compact Guide to Alberta Birds states:

…the Northern Shrike relies on its sharp, hooked bill to catch and kill small birds or rodents.  Its tendency to impale its prey on thorns and barbs for later consumption has earned it the name ‘Butcher Bird’…Northern Shrikes have also been documented to kill other birds without any intention of eating them.

Yikes!  And there it was, looking so innocent and cute!


There are crocuses under there somewhere, I just know it….  🙂

I hope your weekend is full of sunshine!  Will you be able to get in some gardening?


  1. We have the same snow storm as you are experiencing. Luckily on Thursday our backyard was half melted off and I managed to clean up 5 bins of yard waste to be taken by our city’s composting program; lots of mushy leaves and crabapples. Sadly there is nothing up in my beds yet, not even a brave tulip poking through. So sad.

    • Oh, that’s great that you were able to get out and begin your clean up tasks before the snow arrived! I guess we just have to take advantage of the breaks in the weather to get our gardening work done…and relax with a nice cup of hot chocolate and a good book in the meantime! 🙂

    • Thank you! I read a lovely blog post this morning that suggested that instead of complaining about the snow, we ought to embrace it and prolong fun winter activities such as snowshoeing and winter hiking for a while longer. That’s positive thinking! 🙂

  2. Ugh, sorry about the snow. We don’t have snow, but the weather has turned cold once again. Everything has gone back to slow motion this week. At least we got some rain, so this has not been a dry April. As to the Shrike, maybe you should call it Shrike the Ripper!

    • “Shrike the Ripper”…that’s great! Perfectly apt, and catchier by far than “Butcher Bird”! Have to see if we can get it to stick…. 😉

      Glad you’re getting some precipitation that isn’t snow (even if it means you have to postpone activity in the garden). Do you typically have fairly dry springs?

  3. Who could guess from the photo that little feathery cutie is a menace? We also got the same snow you did although I heard water dripping in the eaves today so it’s melting fast….I garden at ‘Gardening Nirvana’ all winter 😀 Alys is in California so no need to wait for spring.

    • A little “Gardening Nirvana” definitely hits the spot…Alys is so fortunate to live where she does! We can all garden vicariously through her posts. 🙂

      I’m glad the snow is melting there – maybe this is the end of it, do you think? Nah, this is Alberta…. 😉

  4. I’ve never heard of such a vicious bird! Even large birds of prey don’t do that, do they? I do hope your snow doesn’t stick around much longer, but at least you got some sunshine! We have typical April weather here… I wanted to go out and start weeding on Friday, but every time I even thought of putting my boots on there was a heavy shower! Maybe today….
    Have a good weekend!

    • I was really surprised to find out that information about shrikes…I think you’re right, birds of prey usually kill just to eat, and not for fun.

      Our weather forecast for the end of the week suggests that we may reach a high of +12 degrees Celsius! I’m waiting, ever so impatiently…. 😉 There will be puddles everywhere!

      You’re having all your “April showers” – I would prefer that over snow (but I guess it still delays the time spent out in the garden). Hope you managed to get out today! 🙂

  5. Unfortunately we are still under snow and hard ground here. Still getting snow as well, intermittently, but the tulips are starting to come up now. They are pretty sturdy, strong little things that are trying to force Mother Nature to warm up a bit more. Good for them! As for shrikes, we have actually never heard of them. Nice looking bird though!

    • I’m glad you’re seeing some signs of spring…soon, your tulips will bloom! 🙂 It’s still snowing here now, but it has finally tapered off and they’ve lifted the snowfall warning, which is a relief!

      • You are truly too sweet Sheryl. You have no idea how much I wanted to shoot more flowers today, but didn’t want to overwhelm everyone with them. I’m enjoying them so much this spring. Thank you so much and hope your snow will disappear soon.

  6. oh my, more snow? i feel your pain as a gardener, though it’s still pretending to be spring here in Chicago and crocus have finally arrived, more snpw at this late date would not make me happy at all.

    in my previous house, i had enormous front and backyard gardens, now i’m 3rd floor condo-ized and live vicariously through other folks gardens. your blog is so beautiful and informative, i think i’ll live vicaroiusly through your gardening journey as well.. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your kind comments! 🙂 I’m happy that you joined the 20 Lines a Day community; I’ve been enjoying reading your work, and I look forward to your posts there and on your blog. 🙂

      I’m glad your weather is far more spring-like than ours…it’s getting to be a bit tedious waiting for all this snow to melt, but I know the sunshine and warmth will arrive eventually!

      That must have been a huge adjustment going from a large yard and garden to condo-living – I feel for you! Fortunately, there are plenty of small-space solutions for us “micro-gardeners.”

      • thank you for the welcome to 20 Lines, being such a novice poet i was so reluctant to join and post but i’m really glad i’m there now.i guess overcoming the fear inspired me a bit too.

        and yes, it was certainly a life change for me moving to a condo, but we have 2 porches that we plant every summer, so that gets my fingers dirty. honestly, working the soil, the connection to the rythym of the seasons is what i miss the most.

        i do look forward to when the snow melts and you start to blog about your gardening adventures, i have a lot to learn about the plants that grow in your zone.

        thanks for the like of my Sensai story today and keep the :::light:::

  7. I know Northern Strikes (L. excubitor) from Germany. They are greater than your Strike occurs to me. May be you find something about the size. Uta

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