Predator vs. Prey: Loggerhead Shrike vs. Northern Fence Lizard

By | October 1, 2014
From Xplor: October/November 2014

The struggle to survive isn't always a fair fight. Here's what separates nature's winners from its losers.

Killer Bill

The loggerhead shrike is a black-masked bandit. This predatory songbird, about the size of a robin, hovers and then attacks from behind. In a flash, its falcon-like beak can sever its prey’s spinal cord.

Shrike-Spiked Snacks

Often called the “butcher bird,” the shrike skewers grasshoppers and other prey on thorns or barbed wire for when hunting is lean. A shrike’s small feet can’t grip large prey, so impaling food makes for easier eating.

Habitat Homebodies

Prairie lizards, also known as northern fence lizards, rarely venture far from shelter. These glade-loving, sunbathing slackers are ectothermic, or cold-blooded. To stay warm, they bask in the sun on rocks and dart under them for protection.

Cut and Run

A lizard can drop its tail like a flip-flopping, wriggling worm to distract predators from taking a bigger bite. This tail tactic gives stubby a split second to split. A new tail grows back in three to four months.

and the winner is…

The prairie lizard’s camo scales make it all but disappear to predators. However, this male lizard — busy flashing his brilliant blue patches while doing push-ups to attract a mate — soon became lizard lunch.

And More...

This Issue's Staff

Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White