Tiny, fierce and disappearing: breeding program aims to help small bird

A small and disappearing bird whose population is dropping. It's great to see the Toronto Zoo working with the Smithsonian Institute on this. It has kind of gruesome habits though.

To try and learn more about the reasons why, researchers and biologists at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Va., have been working with a Canadian breeding program to help build populations of the threatened migrans subspecies. Their hope is that with a larger group of birds to study, they’ll be able to root out reasons why loggerhead shrikes—and perhaps other grassland-dependent species—are declining.

Warren Lynch, a biologist and the bird unit manager at SCBI, has been working with staff at the Toronto Zoo and Wildlife Preservation Canada to breed shrikes to be released back into the wild. SCBI wrapped up its first full year of breeding in 2014; in Canada, efforts have been underway since 1997, when only 18 breeding pairs were counted in the wild in Ontario.