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Shrike Craftiness

Ruth M. Crockett
2 (March-April)
From Field and Study
Online Text:

Shrike Craftiness

Today (November 18, 1935), as I went back and forth to the clothes line, I was attracted by an unusual bird call. Finally I walked slowly into the vacant lot next door toward the call. I found a shrlke (Lenius ludovicianus) sitting in the shadow about half way up in a mesquite bush. When I first saw him he was giving a low plaintive call which aroused the curiosity of several birds and drew them toward him, as he had drawn me. They were a mockingbird, a thrasher, an English Sparrow and several House Finches.

He then changed to a whistling call, similar to that of the Abert Towhee, but not as loud. All this time one House Finch was working down through the branches nearer and nearer the shrike, keeping up the usual House Finch talk. Tbe shrike kept his eye on the finch all the time and began to answer. He carried on a conversation for several minutes, in tones surprisingly like those of the House Finch.

In the meantime the shrike had moved out in the open. I was so fascinated by the shrike and House Finch that I did not notice that the mockingbird had worked around on the ground almost under the shrike. Like a Sash the shrike dropped down, striking at the mockingbird, but missed. A chase by the mockingbird ensued.

Ruth M. Crockett

90 Columbus Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona, November 18, 1935

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