Friday, October 1, 2010

Mystery Birds

Loggerhead Shrike (Wikimedia Commons)

A few Sundays ago, my husband and I got to see a Loggerhead Shrike (top) in our yard several times. It is amazing that he is a full-time Texas resident and I have never seen one before or since. Populations are declining in part of the state due to insecticide use killing off most of the grasshoppers. We had a bumper crop of grasshoppers this year where I live so I don't understand why I didn't see more of them. They also eat other insects, lizards, small mammals, and frogs. We have all of those readily available here in the country north of Stanton, Texas. These birds have to impale their prey on a barbed wire fence or other sharp object because their feet are too weak to hold their catch.

Above is a picture of a European Starling in winter plumage. These birds have been a mystery to me for a few weeks now. I thought they were closer to Starlings than any other bird but I have never seen their winter plumage--only solid black ones. They have a lot of purple and green iridescence in their winter coats. Beautiful! One of the sexes has a lighter-colored head. There are many more pictures here that show this winter oddity.