NAPANEE, Ont.—The Nature Conservancy of Canada says it's expanding a conservation area in eastern Ontario to help protect an endangered songbird rarer than the panda.
The non-profit conservation group has purchased 31 hectares of key eastern loggerhead shrike habitat north of Napanee, Ont.
In 2017, biologists saw five young shrikes fledging from their nest on the property—part of the longest-occupied eastern loggerhead shrike nesting area in the Napanee Plain.
The NCC says the shrike is one of the fastest-declining bird species in North America and is an example of an “area-sensitive species.”
It requires large areas of open terrain before it is comfortable enough to nest and few protected nesting areas remain for the eastern loggerhead shrike.
It is believed that there are less than 30 breeding pairs remaining in the wild in North America.
“It's critical that we conserve these special natural places, not just for grassland bird species like the shrike, but for the benefit of current and future generations,” Wendy Cridland of the Nature Conservancy of Canada said in a release.
The eastern loggerhead shrike is one of North America's few predatory songbirds.
Using its strong, hooked beak, the shrike impales its prey, typically large insects, on thorns or the barbed wire of fences, allowing it to capture its prey and store it for later consumption.