Loggerhead Shrikes are interesting birds, they are classified as song birds but they also have raptor like behaviors in my opinion. They are fierce, handsome and they can be quite vocal. I usually hear them just before I see them.
Yesterday I spotted this Loggerhead Shrike singing away on a branch of a tree, it was really raising a ruckus and it sounded like these Shrike’s do when they are in mating season. With as little “winter” as we have had this year maybe the birds and animals are getting confused.
Anyway, I loved the wonderful setting I found this bird in, out in the open, no distracting branches and the background was so distant that I knew I’d get a nice, smooth look to the background because of the bokeh of my lens. This might look like a typical Bird on a Stick (BOAS) set up shot because of that, but this is completely natural and taken in the wild.
While watching and photography the Shrike’s behavior I could tell that it might regurgitate a pellet because it would open its bill without any sound which seems to be an early indicator of pellet expulsion. Pellet expulsion occurs rapidly so I didn’t want to take my eye off of the bird. I should have looked at my EV settings though. I really didn’t need +0.7 exposure compensation, I could have gotten away without making any adjustment to my compensation but I was able to reduce the brightness in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) easily because I shoot in RAW.
In the image above the pellet can be seen in the throat at the base of the bill, when this behavior happens the Shrike almost always has its head pointing down which often means the lack of light in the eye but in this case because of the angle of the sun I was able to get a catchlight.
In the image above the pellet has moved further towards the tip of the bill and the bird appears to be struggling a bit less in the process.
It isn’t everyday that I get to see and photograph a Loggerhead Shrike expelling a pellet! If I had reached for my coffee, sneezed or even glanced away from the bird I would have missed this behavior and getting these photographs.