“Though she be but little, she is fierce”

[Shakespeare, Midsummer Night’s Dream]

Shrikes are smallish birds, with hooked upper beaks like the miniature birds of prey that they are. This one is a Long-tailed Fiscal Shrike, Lanius cabanisi, in the Maasai Mara.

Long-tailed Fiscal Shrike

They eat insects and grubs, like this Mackinnon’s Fiscal Shrike, Lanius mackinnoni, in the Kakamega Forest: Mackinnon';s foscal shrike with caterpillar.

But although they are no more than 8 inches long, they also go for much bigger prey (same bird, one day earlier):

Mackinnons Fiscal Shrike with fresh mouse that we watched him catch.

We had been watching it sitting motionless on the very top of a bare tree, when suddenly it swooped, and scooped this unfortunate mouse up from the grass below.

They are notorious for their habit of impaling their prey on thorns or sharp twigs, so as to make it easier to tear off convenient-sized bites, and also to create a food cache. A well-stocked cache can also help to attract females. This bird didn’t do this, he/she appeared to be feeding a nestful of young ones somewhere nearby.

PS: My alternative title for this post was Vlad the Impaler.

One thought on ““Though she be but little, she is fierce””

  1. Haha that Vlad gets everywhere. Would you like to,write a piece for the OSL annual newsletter about your postcard project? Bx

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

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