Breeding Bird Atlas 1 Additional Accounts

Loggerhead Shrike

Lanius ludovicianus

The Loggerhead Shrike is a species whose breeding status in Massachusetts, as well as throughout all of southern New England, has always been that of a rare, local, and sporadic nester. Documented historic breeding in western Massachusetts includes three nests located in Berkshire County between 1883 and 1886, and probably also in Savoy in 1913 and 1914. Additionally, there is a “confirmed” nesting record for Greenfield, Franklin County, in 1901 (Snyder 1956).

The next fully documented Bay State breeding records did not occur until 1956, when successful nesting took place in Danvers and Newburyport, Essex County (Snyder 1956); and in Berlin, Worcester County (Veit & Petersen 1993). Loggerhead Shrikes also nested successfully at Danvers and Newburyport in 1957. The cluster of breeding attempts during the mid-1950s is inexplicable. The last known breeding of this species in Massachusetts occurred in Newbury, Essex County, in 1971 (Veit & Petersen 1993). This nesting was observed by numerous individuals and photographically documented by Joseph Kenneally.

Since the last nesting in 1971, the Loggerhead Shrike has steadily declined as a migrant in Massachusetts, as well as throughout much of the Northeast. Forty to 50 years ago, this species was a scarce spring migrant, typically appearing in April, and an uncommon but regular fall migrant from late August to October. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, however, the species is best described as an extirpated breeder in Massachusetts and a generally rare visitor in any season. The Loggerhead Shrike is listed as an endangered species in Massachusetts.