Contributed by Low Choon How. 19.12.15
The Long-tailed Shrike with its prey, a Black-browed Reed Warbler.
My home patch at Jurong Central Park has a good mix of open grasslands, flowering scrubs, matured trees and fresh water marshy ponds. These diverse habitats have attracted a good number of both resident and migrant bird species that adapt well in such habitats. One such permanent resident is the Long-tailed Shrike, Lanius schach, that prefers to hunt in the open for lizards, small birds and mammals.
With the warbler’s head hanging from a Y branch, the shrike was able to pull the feathers off at ease to get to the flesh.
On 13th December, I was surprised to see a Long-tailed Shrike flying back to a bush with a brownish bird in its beak. Luckily it perched close enough for me to take these shots and document its smart feeding behavior. The prey was a Black-browed Warbler, Acrocephalus bistrigiceps, a migrant that forages inside the reed beds and sages around the ponds. Their confiding and active nature is a defense tactic against predators. But these tactics were no match for the Long-tailed Shrike. My guess is that it have been observing the behavior of the warbler for some time to be able to catch it. Or that the warbler was weak and tired after a long journey. A sad end of a long journey for this migrant from East Asia.
Tearing off the flesh from the hanging Warbler.
What happened next showed the intelligence of the Shrike. It selected a Y branch and carried the dead warbler over before hanging it’s head on the fork. With the carcass secured, it then started pulling out its feathers. Using it sharp hooked beak it then tore into the flesh of the warbler before eating it. This is surely one of the smartest predators around. There were other documentations showing them impaling their live prey on to the thorns and spikes of trees and then tearing the flesh off.