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Loggerhead shrike: The brutal 'butcherbird' that impales its prey on barbed wire




Name: Loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)

Where it lives: North America

What it eats: Mainly invertebrates, but also small vertebrates including reptiles, amphibians, bats and birds.

Why it's awesome: The loggerhead shrike is nicknamed the "butcherbird" thanks to its rather gruesome practice of impaling its prey on sharp thorns, twigs and barbed wire.

This little songbird,  which can take down prey heavier than itself, waits patiently on high perches — sometimes using telephone wires — and keeps a look out for a potential meal.

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Once it spots a victim, it swoops down and uses its raptor-like hooked beak to make the kill — repeatedly biting the back of its  neck to paralyze it. A study published in 2018 also found that for larger prey, loggerhead shrikes will hold its prey by the neck and shake it with force equivalent to a human experiencing a slow rear-end car crash. By shaking its prey like this, the bird damages the spinal column — essentially using the victim's body weight against it.