Loggerhead Shrikes and a few things that bug them

Loggerhead Shrike with its eyes closedLoggerhead Shrike with its eyes closed

I over slept this morning which is why I didn’t have a post published earlier but I wanted to go shooting because the skies were fairly clear. So I am late today.

This morning while I was on Antelope Island there was a Loggerhead Shrike perched on a dead branch that was near the north shoreline of the Great Salt Lake. There were thousands of Midges in the area, some in front of the shrike, some behind and some very close to the bird. This shrike kept closing its eyes and I wonder if that was because the midges were bothering it.

Warning: Cruddy images ahead but informative ones!

Loggerhead Shrike surrounded by MidgesLoggerhead Shrike surrounded by Midges

This photo shows the midges all around the Loggerhead Shrike. We call them “bugnados” because the midges seem to form funnels of flying bugs. These midges do NOT bite but they do tickle if they land on you. When there are thousands of them you can hear a slight hum but it is nothing like hearing that one annoying mosquito that won’t stop buzzing your head when you are trying to fall asleep.

One adult Loggerhead Shrike bringing in prey to anotherOne adult Loggerhead Shrike bringing in prey to another

All of a sudden I saw another Loggerhead Shrike fly in with prey in its bill and it passed it off to the other shrike. It is difficult to tell what the prey is exactly, it might be the pupae of something or it might be a moth with its wings torn off. The shrike that took the prey dove down into the bush so I suspect that these two adults are feeding fledglings.

The Loggerhead Shrike on the right is banded and it was probably banded last year by a group of researchers from Great Salt Lake Institute (GSLI) out of Westminster College who have been banding shrikes and other birds that eat the spiders on the island to study mercury uptake levels.

A pair of Loggerhead Shrikes in a cloud of MidgesLoggerhead Shrikes in a cloud of Midges

Here is an image of both adult Loggerhead Shrikes that shows more of the cloud of midges that surrounded them. I suspect that the midges are not prey for the shrikes because they are so small compared to other prey that shrikes take.

A swarm of MidgesA swarm of Midges

I tried several times to get images of the flying midges with the majority of them in focus and this photo does that fairly well. Midges are prey for shorebirds, song birds and some grebes and we sure have plenty of midges along the Great Salt Lake and the marshes that surround it.

Just another wonderful day in my neighborhood!

Mia

All images were taken with my Nikon D300 with the Nikkor 200-400mm VR and 1.4x TC attached.

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