WCS’s Bronx Zoo Exhibits "Butcher Bird"
Shrike Known for Impaling Prey on Thorns
Attention to WCS Efforts to Save Declining Grassland Birds
NEW YORK (September 15, 2009)—
The Wildlife Conservation
Society’s (WCS) Bronx Zoo welcomes to its collection the loggerhead shrike,
a seemingly harmless-looking songbird best known for eating its prey after
impaling its captives on thorns and barbed wire.
known as the “Butcher Bird,” the shrike will call attention to this
fascinating species, which has been rapidly declining as a result of habitat
The shrike can be seen near the zoo’s sea lion pool in an exhibit that
replicates its declining grassland habitat. The exhibit is
“decorated” with thorn bushes and even a barbed wire fence, which
the shrike uses to hold its meals.
Grassland birds in general have become more vulnerable over time due to climate
change, increased pesticide use, and other forces affecting their
habitat. A severe population decline starting in the 1950s has dramatically
reduced its range and numbers. Scientists estimate approximately 100 pairs
remain in the wild in North America.
WCS has teamed up with the Wildlife Preservation Trust Canada, which is leading a captive
breeding program while conducting surveys to monitor shrike populations, and
working with landowners and agricultural associations to help protect and
enhance the shrike habitat.
“The exhibit was intended to bring attention to an endangered species
that is losing ground as a result of habitat changes,” says Nancy Clum,
Assistant Curator of Ornithology for the Wildlife Conservation Society.
has a reintroduction program for this species and we are hopeful that there may
eventually be a similar program on this side of the border.”
Facts about the
Black body, gray
back and white wings
Notable field mark
is the mask – a black stripe around the eyes that extends
across the face
Waits on a perch
with open lines of sight and swoops down to capture prey
8 to10 inches long
with a 13-inch wingspan
eyesight and can focus on a grasshopper 50 to 70 yards away
The habitat in which
they live is characterized by short grasses, interspersed with spiny
shrubs and low trees. Shrubs and trees are required for nesting and
perching as well as for sites on which to impale their prey. The
lands they have become familiar with have been transformed for
agricultural land use, particularly the conversion of pastures and
hayfields to rowcrops, which resulted in the removal of trees and shrubs.
To learn more about WCS
conservation efforts in the US,
and around the
world, visit www.wcs.org for more
Stephen Sautner - email@example.com, 1-718-220-3682
John Delaney - firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-718-220-3275
The Bronx Zoo
is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays
through November 2, 2009. Adult admission is $15, children (3-12 years
old) $11, children under 3 are free, seniors (65+) are $13. Parking is $12 for
cars and $16 for buses. The Bronx Zoo is conveniently located off the Bronx River Parkway
at Exit 6; by train via the #2 or #5 or by bus via the #9, #12, #19, #22,
MetroNorth, or BxM11 Express Bus service (from Manhattan that stops just outside the gate.)
To plan your trip, visit www.bronxzoo.com or call
The Wildlife Conservation Society
saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science,
global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system
of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these
activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and
humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is
essential to the integrity of life on Earth.
Special Note to the Media:
If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can
make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please
direct them to www.wcs.org/donation.