Daily Archives: December 14, 2009

(Likely) the Last Shrike Update of the Day

IMG_3475-2  Several birders saw the Northern Shrike sporadically on Disposal Road from just after noon through 1:15 p.m. today (when we had to leave).

    We even had the good fortune of watching it cough up a pellet at the former Kingsland Landfill.

   Several birders saw the same show this morning and, as one commented, "Recycling on a landfill — how appropriate."

   We saw the bird across the road from the Carillon, just behind that water retention pond, typically perched very high in a bare tree. (This shot was taken just after noon.)

   Scroll down for earlier posts for directions and more info on this bird.

   Feel free to e-mail Jim Wright of the NJMC if you plan on looking for this bird.

   We are hoping he hangs around for the Christmas Bird Count this weekend — if not longer.

About Northern Shrikes

    The Northern Shrike, which has been seen along Disposal Road in North Arlington the past four days, is a winter arrival from the north and rare for the Meadowlands — to the point where it was not on our official list until now. The bird was last seen this morning on the former Kingsland Landfill near the AMVETS Carillon.

   The bird was first seen Friday by Daniel Brill of South River (Thanks, Daniel!), and has been seen at least once each day since then.

    The bird is the size and shape of a Northern Mockingbird, but it has a distinctive hooked bill and black mask. It is sometimes called "the butcher bird," because it impales its prey on a branch before eating. 

   Birder Chris Takacs, who spotted the bird yesterday and today, calls the shrike a "flycatcher with attitude," because it likes to hunt from a perch, then fly back to the perch,  like a flycatcher likes to do.

    We are trying to get better pictures of the Disposal Road Shrike, but it has been distant and/or the lighting has been bad.

    According to NJMC naturalist Michael Newhouse, there is a possibility that the shrike may be setting up a territory. On Sunday morning, he chased away a Redtail; this morning he harassed a Belted Kingfisher that flew over the landfill.

Northern Shrike Continues…


    The Northern Shrike was seen from 9:30 a.m. on this morning on Kingsland Landfill, and then chasing a smaller bird across Disposal Road and the Saw Mill Creek Trail — quite an aerial display.  

     We will be at the Carillon from noon to one p.m. to look for the bird — spotting scopes are a good idea. (The photo above was taken this morning, from a distance.)

    Please remember that no trespassing is allowed on the former landfill; please stay by the side of the road — not only for the protection of the shrike but for yourselves as work crews are on the site. 

   To get to Disposal Road, follow the directions in the right-hand column of this blog, then bear right after you cross the railroad tracks, just before you enter DeKorte. Beware of speed bumps, pot holes and most of all pedestrians on Disposal Road.

     We will continue to post updates as appropriate. ( A special thanks to Chris Takacs for his help in finding this bird.)

Snowy Owl v. Peregrine Pix

   Last winter, we were lucky enough to watch a Peregrine Falcon buzz a Snowy Owl not far from DeKorte Park. We got some OK pix (one is above), but the action was really too far away to photograph.

  Turns out that a similar scenario unfolded at Jones Beach last winter. Photos of the encounter were published in New York Conservationist magazine recently. Link is here.