Family Shrikes (Laniidae)

Near Threatened

Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)


French: Pie-grièche migratrice German: Louisianawürger Spanish: Alcaudón americano

Lanius ludovicianus


, 1766,

Louisiana, USA


Race anthonyi may be genetically distinct#R. Races intergrade, making subspecific delimitation difficult. Other proposed races include gambeli (Calaveras County, in EC California), nevadensis (Inyo County, in E California) and sonoriensis (Chiracahua Mts, in SE Arizona), all subsumed into excubitorides, and miamensis (Miami-Dade County, in SE Florida) merged with nominate; and, in Mexico, nelsoni (S Baja California) synonymized with mexicanus. Seven subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. l. excubitorides Swainson, 1832 – SW Canada (C Alberta, S Saskatchewan and SW Manitoba) S in W USA to E Washington, extreme S Oregon and S Idaho and to California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas (except NE), E to North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and W Oklahoma; non-breeding in S parts of range and S to W Mexico (including Baja California).
  • L. l. grinnelli Oberholser, 1919 – extreme S California (S from San Diego County) S to extreme NW Mexico (C Baja California Norte).
  • L. l. anthonyi Mearns, 1898 – Channel Is (Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Santa Catalina), off S California.
  • L. l. mearnsi Ridgway, 1903 – San Clemente I, in Channel Is, off S California.
  • L. l. migrans Palmer, 1898 – SE Canada (S Ontario, S Quebec) and, in USA, from E edge of Great Plains (E from Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and NE Texas) E to New York and Atlantic coast, and S into Mississippi Valley to N Mississippi, Arkansas and N Louisiana; non-breeding in S of range and S to Gulf Coast states and E coast of Mexico.
  • L. l. ludovicianus Linnaeus, 1766 – E & S USA (E of Appalachian Mts) from North Carolina S to Gulf Coast states and S tip of Florida.
  • L. l. mexicanus C. L. Brehm, 1854 – W & C Mexico (including S Baja California) S to Oaxaca.
  • Descriptive notes

    18–22 cm; 43–54 g. A medium-sized shrike with medium-length tail. Male nominate race has black facial mask from lores and very narrowly over base of bill back to... read more


    Huge variety of calls. Repeated harsh screeching “tscheeer-tscheeer…” and sharp... read more


    Breeds in open country with short vegetation, generally below 2000 m elevation. Prefers active... read more

    Food and feeding

    Almost 70% insectivorous, more so than L. excubitor. Chief among prey items are grasshoppers and crickets (Orthoptera) and beetles... read more


    Breeds earlier than most other passerines. Laying mainly Feb–Jul; late May to Jul in N of range, but in S eggs found as early as mid-... read more


    N populations migratory, most wintering S of latitude 40º N; populations in extreme N of range... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Rare to locally fairly common. Decreasing trend in E (E of R Mississippi); some W populations appear stable,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Yosef, R., International Shrike Working Group & Sharpe, C.J. (2019). Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 12 December 2019).