Common Name

Scientific Name

View Utah Distribution Map

Photo by Tim Provan
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The northern shrike, Lanius excubitor, occurs in much of the Northern Hemisphere, as well as in Africa. In North America, it breeds in the northern parts of Alaska and Canada, and migrates south into southern Cananda and the northern United States during winter. It is a rare migrant into, or through, Utah during winter.

Northern shrikes nest in trees and bushes found in open woodlands and thickets. Females typically lay four to six eggs per clutch. The young, which are tended by both parents, leave the nest at about twenty days of age, although they are not independent for an additional ten days. Northern shrikes commonly produce multiple broods (usually two broods) each year.

The northern shrike eats small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects, sometimes using barbed wire or thorns to stab its captured prey.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Peterson, R. T., and V. M. Peterson. 1990. A field guide to western birds, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 432 pp.