May 2020 Birds Need Plants Photo

The Loggerheaded Shrike uses trees for perches—sitting on a Bald Cypress Tree © Edward McCool April.

Edward McCool noticed how this Loggerhead Shrike started using the free Bald Cypress tree from Pelican Island Audubon & planted a month ago by Barbara Riebe. It looked dead/all brown when she planted it. Bald Cypress are deciduous trees so the bright green is its spring growth. It is thriving.   PIAS’s Trees for Life program gives free trees to encourage people to plant more native varieties in their yards so that the plant’s seeds, flowers, and parts of the plant and insects will grow and thus draw the birds to the area. Habitats are being totally altered by development and agriculture, highways, and cities. Birds used to be so numerous, but 70% of their population has dwindled in the last 50 years. 

Like many birds that use trees or bushes as places from which to survey the world or to hide in the foliage, this Loggerhead Shrike characteristically sits in high places to spot its food.  When it spies its prey, it flies out to snatch the small invertebrates or vertebrates.  Unlike the hawk predators with strong talons to hold the prey down to tear its prey into pieces, shrikes have too tiny feet. So the shrike takes its prey and skewers it on a thorn or barbed wire to hold it. Then the shrike can eat in leisure or tear off bits to take to feed its young. Notice the shrike’s curved upper beak, similar to the hawk’s curved bill to better tear prey apart.   

Click here to learn how to plant a tree, take a brief 6 question quiz and sign the pledge! You will be contacted to arrange a date and time to come by Audubon House to pick up your free tree(s). Plant a tree and they will come!

Juanita Baker, Coordinator
Florida Birds Need Plants Photo of the Month
Pelican Island Audubon Society

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