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.