The diet of this small predatory bird consists mainly of insects, but it also takes spiders, snails, crabs, crayfish, and small vertebrates such as lizards, amphibians, birds, rodents and sometimes fish. The loggerhead shrike will also feed on carrion and roadkill (2) (4) (5) (6). Hunting usually takes place from an exposed perch, from which the loggerhead shrike sits and watches for potential prey (2) (3) (4) (5) (6). It may also hover when foraging (2) (4) (6). Most prey is caught on the ground, but insects may also be captured in the air (2) (6).
Unlike birds of prey, the loggerhead shrike does not have strong feet and talons. Instead, it relies on its sharp, hooked bill to kill its prey, with small vertebrates usually being dispatched with a bite to the back of the neck. Smaller prey may be eaten immediately, but larger items are carried back to a perch, sometimes held in the feet. The victim is often then impaled on a sharp object such as a thorn or barbed wire, or wedged into the fork of a tree, before being ripped apart (3) (4) (5) (6). The loggerhead shrike also stores food by impaling it, particularly in winter when food is scarce, or during the breeding season when its energy demands are greater (4) (5) (6). Noxious prey is often impaled and left for several days, which may allow its poisons to degrade before it is eaten (4).
The loggerhead shrike breeds relatively early in the year, from about February to July. Breeding usually occurs slightly later in mountainous areas and in the northern parts of its range (2) (4) (6). The nest of the loggerhead shrike is usually located in a thorny tree or shrub and is built mainly by the female. It consists of a bulky cup of sticks, grass and bark strips, and is lined with rootlets, plant fibres, moss, grass, animal hair, feathers, and sometimes man-made materials like paper or cloth (2) (4) (6).
The female loggerhead shrike incubates the clutch of 1 to 9 eggs for about 15 to 17 days, during which time she is fed by the male (2) (3) (4) (5) (6). Both adults feed the chicks, which leave the nest at around 16 to 21 days old (2) (4) (5) (6). The young loggerhead shrikes become independent after three to four weeks (2) (5) (6), but sometimes stay with the adults for up to three months (2) (6). The loggerhead shrike first breeds at a year old (4) (6), and may live for three to four years (6). In southern parts of its range, the loggerhead shrike may raise two or even three broods a year (2) (4) (6).