Finnish Focus On... Red Backed Shrike

Red Backed Shrikes are one of the joys of Summer birding in Finland, and one of those species, rare in Ireland, that reminds me how spoiled I am with the selection of birds I see these days. 

This juv was one I found on my beloved Mizen. Needless to say my views in Finland tend to be somewhat better.

Whilst I saw many of these over the years in Ireland, I only ever found two of my own, and so I take the time to appreciate Red Backeds when I see them here, which is frequently.

Female Red Backed Shrike - compared to their grey cousins, there's something very cute and sweet about Red Backeds.

Male Red Backed Shrike - there's something very pleasing to the eye when it comes to the simple colours of male Red Backeds. Why do we humans often find simple color patterns so striking?

Juvenile Red Backed Shrike - by August the juvs will be out, occupying any fence line they can find, the intricate scalloping of their plumage reminding me of September and October in Cork.

Female Red Backed Shrike - stick piles, a regular feature of the Finnish rural landscape, built up every autumn as growth is cut back, and winds work over the trees, provide ideal perching and hiding habitat for Shrikes. Watch them as you drive through the countryside and you will clock dozens of Red Backeds on any given trip. 

Red Backed Shrike is not just a rural bird here either, this photo was taken without optics in the botanic gardens in Helsinki, where you can usually find a breeding pair.

On my old patch of Laajalahti, a pair would usually be present in the flooded birches.

Male - Laajalahti

Stunning Male - Red Backed Shrike - up close that male plumage starts to give us more subtle tones. Pinks, oranges, whites and silvers. Just great birds. 


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