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.

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No wildflowers here….

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(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!

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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?