Here's a bit of information from the Minnesota DNR's Nongame Wildlife website regarding the Loggerhead Shrike:
"They were once found in grasslands around the state, except in the Arrowhead region. Recent surveys have found fewer than 30 nests in southern and western Minnesota, with a small concentration in Dakota, Rice, and Goodhue counties. Population loss is likely due to many factors--loss of grassland habitats to cropland and housing, forest encroachment into grasslands, increased use of pesticides, and changes in farming practices with larger fields and fewer trees, shrubs, and fences."
On last Sunday's birding field trip, John Hockema mentioned that a pair of Loggerhead Shrikes had been seen regularly behind Lowe's. "You mean the Lowe's out by 48th Street?" I asked, because I couldn't believe they were this close to where I live. John confirmed that was the place and told me specifically that the birds had been seen less than 1/2 mile east of Lowe's on County 101. (Of course, I knew exactly where that was because that road is sometimes my shortcut home from Quarry Hill Nature Center.)
So on Monday afternoon, I left home a little bit early to pick up Mr. Johnson from work in the hopes that I might be lucky enough to spot this shrike. I had gone no more than a quarter mile onto County 101 and there it was--up on the utility line. Holy Crap!! A Loggerhead Shrike!! (do you ever do that--talk to yourself while you're driving around and looking at birds? I need one of those "birder" bumper stickers so people who pass me on the road know I'm a birder and not just some kooky old woman driving slow and talking to herself!)
I pulled out my little Canon Power Shot and started snapping away because I was sure the bird would fly as the car rolled closer.
Amazingly enough, the bird just stayed right there on the line and I was able to drive right up in front of it!
Gosh, what a handsome bird!
Finally, as I was turning the car around, the bird flew across the road to some trees. I couldn't resist stopping to take one more picture.
With the rate of development arount Rochester, I'm not sure how much longer this habitat will be available for this bird. This area is prime for residential or commercial development and I think it's only a matter of time before the fences are pulled, the trees are cut down and more prime bird and wildlife habitat is gone forever.