Shrike or Shriek

Loggerhead-ShrikePaying homage this Halloween I will howl one of nature’s prettiest and deadliest masked predators.  If you and your children are out in suburbs or rural flat-lands costumed to the max trick-or-treating, leave your pet insect or little pet reptile safely at home!  There is a little cute bird out that would cast nicely into even the most horrific Stephen King movie.  I do not speak of your typical vampire bats or Edgar Allen Poe’s raven.  The Aves Lanius, better known as the “butcher bird” or Shrike, impales and proudly displays its victims out in the open for all to see; well, sort of.  But do not let the Shrike’s dainty behavior or harsh song fool you.  When it is on the hunt, its killer instinct can rival many a Jurassic carnivore.

Beware!  And don’t dress-up as an alien grasshopper or mousy-looking short-eared rabbit…or else!

These birds are remarkably conniving and sinister.  They hunt insects of all sizes, mice, lizards; even small birds are not safe in their lethal beaks.  Then, as if the gruesome scene had been meticulously planned, their crazed serial-killer DNA find the nearest meat-hook to impale their meal…or worse, merely for show to attract a mate!

Now I ask you, what better scarier freakier creature is more suited for Halloween?

Many Shrikes do not possess the strength in their talons like a true raptor.  However, this little cold-blooded killer does possess a strong hooked bill to grip the flesh, and a notch or tooth at its tip in order to sever the spinal-cord of its captive.  When it is ready to prepare the brutal feast, it will push the prey down a thorn or barbed-wire and as the video above shows, begin ripping into the victim’s flesh.  I ask has this bird been watching any of the movie-series Saw and its sequels.  Or perhaps those movies and others are inspired by this natural ornithological predator.

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I know this, my squeamish stomach has never liked Hollywood blood and gore during Halloween or anytime of the year.  Hell, in the first Halloween movie I almost lost it when Michael hung that man on the kitchen wall with the large cooking knife!  I can sort of handle the Shrike’s behavior; it is a matter of survival and continuation of the species.  And isn’t that genetic-wiring in many species here on Earth…including humans?  Ahhhhhhhh!

Care to share your homage to Halloween?  Shrike or shriek…who or what is your scary Halloween tale?

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halloween bird and lantern

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21 thoughts on “Shrike or Shriek

  1. “I know this, my squeamish stomach has never liked Hollywood blood and gore during Halloween or anytime of the year.”

    Same here. That makes us odd balls, I’m sure.

    ” And isn’t that genetic-wiring in many species here on Earth…including humans? Ahhhhhhhh!”

    I think you will really like the article, Peace Among Primates.

    Should answer your question. You will be pleasantly surprised. 😉

    Great post btw. I want to know how you created the photo gallery. Didn’t realize WordPress offered that option unless you had an upgrade. Do you have to upgrade?


    • Neuro-Vic…from your article link about “Peace Among Primates”:

      “Yet as field studies of primates expanded, what became most striking was the variation in social practices across species. Yes, some primate species have lives filled with violence, frequent and varied. But life among others is filled with communitarianism, egalitarianism, and cooperative child rearing.”

      Begs the question, which primate species (e.g. homo sapiens) have evolved more on certain social levels? *grin*

      Btw, I also thoroughly enjoy the organization “Greater Good Science Center” in Berkeley, CA and the studies they promote! 😀


      • Yep. I sure hope you saw the bigger picture, too. Environment and genes are intertwined. But also, neuroplasticity. Big, fat Forrest Troop baboons were hogging the resources — (dopamine addicts) and caused all kinds of havoc on the troop and other troops. Sound familiar? Can you see that we are not much different than our primate cousins?

        However, we have the ability to step outside of ourselves, observed, use critical thinking and make the necessary changes that will bring peace to our species. We have the resources, the knowledge, and the tools. We have a developed prefrontal cortex, for crying out loud, but we tend to default to the oldest parts of the brain — fight or flight.

        The fact that we are still acting like the former Forrest Troop Alpha males, addicted to their own biochemistry, is an indicator to me that we are not near as evolved as we tend to give ourselves credit for.

        As Robert Sapolsky stated that humans may be hard-wired to get edgy around the Other, but our views on who falls into that category are decidedly malleable.

        If the Forrest Troop baboons managed to turn their troop into a baboon utopia, we humans, in all our arrogance, have hope. 😉


  2. Ha! It could’ve been worse. My Western Civ teacher actually passed out in class (landing side/head first on the hard tile floors) because he got squeamish watching a PBS presentation of Oedipus Rex. It didn’t even have any acting, just the oracles telling the story. When they got to the part where Oedipus found his mother and realized what he’d done and gouged his eyes out…the prof passed out. 😡 Apparently this happened to him both times he’d seen it. Weak stomach.


  3. Ah, the Mother Nature, gotta love Her.
    I don’t have any particular Halloween tale to share, other than to say, A) I usually acknowledge & celebrate the holiday as I am, and B) this 31st will mark the 13th wedding anniversary. Now that’s a scary tale. 😀


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