The lifer that wasn’t

January 1st we visited a few lakefront sites, starting with North Point Marina and Spring Bluff Forest Preserve. A Northern Shrike had been reported there by other birders, and we were happy to find it, too. It perched along the trail before us and we stopped to observe it a few times as we approached.

Eventually it flew to a small tree further off the trail. As we passed the tree I looked for any prey items impaled on thorns. I didn’t find any but I can see why the shrike might like this tree.

Once we had passed it returned to its preferred perch to resume its watch over the field. I was sure this was a life bird for us but I underestimated the range of the Northern Shrike – I mean Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor). These birds live throughout much of the temperate and subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere, and we actually saw our first one in Portugal in 2007. This wasn’t the first time we saw a bird and thought LIFER! when in fact we had seen the species before, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Ever happened to you?

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5 Responses to The lifer that wasn’t

  1. Wren says:

    Oh, yes. Particularly when the bird has one name in Europe and another in North America.

    So it goes. 🙂

  2. bob k says:

    In my case it was a bird seen when I was young (and didn’t keep any record) and then seeing the same species 30 years later and I go…wait a minute I’ve seen this bird before!

  3. kelly says:

    …it would have been a life bird for me! That third shot is a stunner.

  4. Mick says:

    A nice bird – even if it wasn’t a first time sighting.

  5. Actually, Amy, the Great Grey or Northern Shrike Lanius excubitor was recently split into Northern and Southern Grey Shrikes. The Southern GS, Lanius meridionalis, would have been the bird you saw in Portugal. Not everyone recognises the split, but the list I use – the one produced by the IOC – does, and so do I for what it’s worth. In other words I’d be happy to say that your bird in Portugal is a different species to the one you saw in North America, so it was a lifer and you can tick it. 🙂

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