FEB 05, 2018 9:03 AM PST

The butcher bird


These birds, known as butcherbirds, have rightfully earned their name from their unique habit of spearing their prey on the thorns and spikes of trees and cacti. Cousins of the shrike, which is shown in the video above and also exhibits this formidable behavior, butcherbirds are large songbirds, black and white in color. They live in deserts and in order to survive in the harsh habitat, they feed on a variety of prey, from insects to lizards to mice and other invertebrates.

When a butcherbird succeeds in catching its victim, it will often skewer it on a thorn of a plant, using the thorn to give it support while it eats the unfortunate victim. The birds will also save the prey in this way, creating a sort of food store to resort to when hard times come, or if babies need to be fed. It is thought that a display of skewered prey also acts as a way to attract a mate - because nothing says romance like a carcass kabob!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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