Let’s talk about Pie-grièche…

… or as it is known in English: a shrike.

Most species of shrike are between 16cm and 25cm long, Wikipedia tells me. “Shrikes are a medium sized bird with grey, brown, black or white plumage.”

But that’s not the interesting part about shrikes. I always love the facts that make me go ooooh or even better: ewww!

Shrikes have a hooked beak. This means that these little birds are birds of prey. They are carnivorous.

A typical shrike sat on a tree branch.
Cute. Fluffy. Violent.

I learnt about these birds while strolling around a lake the other day with my wife and her mum.

At the edge of the lake, there was an information board about the local fauna. Curiosity made me stop to read it. There was a section titled: Pie-grièche écorcheur (Red-backed Shrike). The description of the bird left little to the imagination. It read:

Elle empale ses victimes sur des arbustes épineux ou des barbelés, se créant ainsi un garde-manger.

Translation: She impales her victims on the branches of trees or barbed wire, thus creating a pantry.

The writer of this fact was not one to sugar-coat their language.

It turns out, shrikes don’t just impale small things either. They have been know to target animals which are the same size as them, impaling them just the same.

This is definitely a ‘don’t judge a book by its cover‘ moment. Cute little bird, or Vlad the Impaler with wings? You never can tell.

I wonder why the bird does this. Does it make the food taste better?

I’m going to impale my morning toast on a pencil and leave it for a while and get back to you on that.