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The Community Press

Loggerhead shrike threatened in western Canada; endangered in Ontario and Quebec

March 23, 2004

by Shannon Binder Bray

Blessington - The loggerhead shrike is on its way to becoming extinct in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec and has been designated as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

The predatory songbird is one of 74 shrike species in the world and is partial to an open, bushy habitat. Such a habitat is found in the ideally shallow soil area of the Napanee Limestone Plain as it sits on the southern rim of the Canadian Shield. From the months of April to August these grounds are especially important as nesting areas for the Loggerhead Shrike and join two other main breeding areas in the vicinity, one in Lindsay and one in Ottawa.

One of the many threats to the loggerhead shrike is land development in terms of reforestation and intense farming operations which greatly reduce the bird's natural habitat region. Increase in rural housing development also plays a role for this same reason as well as initiates probable increase in cats and dogs who hunt the medium sized birds.

The loggerhead is internationally protected through a treaty by the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1996. This treaty makes the harming of the loggerheads themselves, as adults or as young, and their nests or eggs illegal in Canada as well as the United States and Mexico.

Along with landowners and other community members, several organizations have combined efforts to initiate a recovery program for the loggerhead, in an effort to thwart its extinction. Those organizations include Kingston Field Naturalists, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Bird Studies Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Wildlife Preservation Trust Canada, the Toronto Zoo, McGill University, Lennox and Addington Community Stewardship Council, Bird Life International, Eastern Loggerhead Shrike Recovery, Bird Studies Canada, Important Bird Areas of Canada, Canadian Nature Federation, and the Ontario Nature Federation of Ontario Naturalists.

Two years ago 25 breeding pairs of the birds were counted by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources; last year that number was reduced to 12.

The Blessington Store information sign

Representatives from Kingston Field Naturalists, the Canadian Nature Federation, and the Nature Network Federation of Ontario Naturalists unveiled an information sign Friday March 19 at the Blessington Store on the corner of Shannonville and Blessington Roads in the Township of Tyendinaga. The large sign sits off to the southern side of the store's picnic area. The group feels this central location, as well as a sister location at a gas station in Newburg, is an ideal gathering spot for residents and travellers to familiarize themselves with the bird, and hopefully aide in its survival.