The Butcher

Martin Smart

Nanaimo, Canada

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2nd Place in the Your Best Wintering Bird Challenge in the Songbirds of North America Group

Featured in “Live, Love, Dream” October 2010
Featured in “The Birds” October 2010

A Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) perched on a teasel at the Nanaimo River Estuary, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada in November

A predatory songbird, the Northern Shrike breeds in taiga and tundra and winters in southern Canada and the northern United States. It feeds on small birds, mammals, and insects.

The latin name of the Northern Shrike literally means “sentinel butcher”: Lanius is the latin term for a butcher and excubitor is latin for a watchman or sentinel. This relates to the birds two most conspicuous behaviours – impaling prey on thorns or barbed wire fences and using exposed tree-tops or posts to watch the surrounding area for potential prey.

Canon 40D
1/1600sec f6.3 ISO 400
500mm lens + 1.4x converter

Artwork Comments

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