Plants and Animals

Lanius ludovicianus migrans Migrant loggerhead shrike

species photo
species photo

Key Characteristics

The Loggerhead shrike is a grayish, robin-sized bird, averaging 8 to 10 inches (20-25 cm) in length with a wingspan of about 13 inches (33 cm). The head and back are bluish-gray, and the breast and belly are white and faintly barred . A broad black mask extends across and slightly above the eyes and above the top of the slightly hooked black bill. The wings are dark with large white wing patches. The tail also is dark with white along the edges. This bird is usually quiet, but may be heard repeating short calls that include a harsh "shack-shack" and "queedle-queedle".

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: E - Endangered (legally protected)
Global Rank: G4T3Q
State Rank: S1 - Critically imperiled


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Allegan 2 1991
Alpena 2 1981
Benzie 2 1990
Chippewa 1 1984
Clare 1 1981
Emmet 1 1981
Grand Traverse 1 1987
Huron 1 1987
Manistee 1 1992
Missaukee 1 1981
Oceana 1 1986
Osceola 1 1981
Presque Isle 1 1979

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Loggerhead shrike habitat consists of grasslands and open, agricultural areas characterized by short vegetation and scattered trees, shrubs or hedgerows for nesting cover and hunting and lookout perches. This species typically prefers pastures, old fields and orchards, roadside fencerows, and native prairies and grasslands. This bird also utilizes riparian areas and open woodlands as well as agricultural fields with row crops (e.g., corn, soybeans, etc.), mowed roadsides, parks, cemeteries and golf courses.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Preserve open grasslands, prairies, pastures and farmland and prevent vegetation succession and conversion to other land uses (e.g., urban development), particularly in areas that have had recent breeding activity. Loggerhead shrikes may be vulnerable to the impacts of pesticides given the predatory nature of this bird and its close association with agricultural areas, however, many persistent, highly toxic pesticides have not been widely used since the 1970's, and yet the population has continued to decline. The effects of pesticides may be indirect in that prey populations are lowered. Habitat management for Loggerhead shrikes should focus on providing suitable nest trees and perches and maintaining a healthy prey population. Suitable habitat can be expanded by planting appropriate nest trees and shrubs (e.g., Eastern red cedar, osage orange, apple and low pines and spruces) in fence rows next to existing pastures and other grassy areas. Maintenance of short vegetation in breeding and foraging habitat, such as pastures and grassland habitat, can be achieved by grazing, mowing and/or prescribed burning. Burning should be frequent enough to help prevent succession and encroachment of woody vegetation but maintain scattered trees and shrubs. Burning should also be done outside of the breeding season. Crop rotation that includes fields with short vegetation also can be used as a management tool to maintain foraging habitat near appropriate nesting habitat at all times.

Active Period

Migration from third week of March to third week of April

Migration from third week of August to fourth week of October

Nesting from third week of April to fourth week of July

Survey Methods

The best way to survey for these birds is by visually observing birds active around known nest sites and suitable habitat where they may be seen foraging or perched on treetops, branches, utility lines and poles, and fence posts.

Visual observation during nesting

Survey Period: From third week of April to fourth week of June

Time of Day: Morning (after sunrise)


Survey References

  • Bibby, C.J., N.D. Burgess, and D.A. Hill. 1992. Bird Census Techniques. Academic Press, New York.

Technical References

  • Evers, D.C. 1994. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of Michigan. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 412pp.
  • Lee, Y. 2001. Special Animal Abstract for Lanius ludovicianus migrans (Migrant loggerhead shrike). Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 6pp.
  • Sibley, D.A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. Knopf, Toronto. 544pp.