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Why do shrikes impale their prey?

August 31, 2018

This lovely bird was near Brides Pool road in the New Territories.

Shrikes are carnivorous passerine birds of the family Laniidae.

The family name, and that of the largest genus, Lanius, is derived from the Latin word for "butcher", and some shrikes are also known as butcherbirds because of their feeding habits. The common English name shrike is from Old English scrīc, alluding to the shrike's shriek-like call.

 

These birds have a slightly hooked beak, and are known for their ability to hang or spear their food onto spikes such as thorns.  they probably do this as they lack strong talons to manipulate their prey, and by doing this repeatedly they ended up with caches of food.  The males also use this food larder along with display items such as rags or snail shells to attract females, and those with the largest larders and display windows tend to breed with the earliest arriving females, and thereby produce more offspring...a biological imperative for most animals.  

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