Friday, October 23, 2020

RBA: RED-BACKED SHRIKE in Powell River - Oct 22-30th

At 1:15 pm on Oct 22-2020, Iwan Van Veen found an ABA CODE 5 Red-backed Shrike on Fernwood Ave in Powell River. The bird was hunting from the powerlines and nearby Blackberry bushes. It would also dive into the Blackberry bushes. He initially dismissed it as a Northern Shrike but something bugged him about it.

He returned at 12pm on Oct 23rd and found it again in the same location and was able to take a photo. The bird was initially thought to be most likely a Brown Shrike but Red-tailed, Isabelline and Red-backed were difficult to rule out with the one single lower quality photo provided.

Multiple observers have seen the bird as of 5:15pm and better photos obtained. 

Several features on new photographs were suggestive of Red-backed Shrike. Photos were sent to experts. Experts weighed in and the consensus is 1st year male Red-backed Shrike. Hybridism is a concern but nothing has been shown to be inconsistent in that regard.

Map to location HERE

On Oct 24th, the bird was seen hunting in the vacant lot HERE on Fernwood Ave and was viewed by multiple observers.

On Oct 25-30th - The bird was last seen in a yard HERE on Fernwood Ave and has been viewed by multiple observers.

The bird was not seen on Oct 31st or Nov 1st, despite multiple observers looking.

This is the 1st record for BC and Canada and 2nd record for the ABA.

A news article about the Red-backed Shrike can be found HERE

**As per current Public Health directives due to COVID-19 - Please remain 2 metres apart when viewing this bird. Please follow all public health directives (including not birding in groups) during this pandemic. The BC Public Health directives can be found HERE*

**eBird's statement on how to bird mindfully during the pandemic can be viewed HERE**

Red-backed Shrike in Powell River - Photos: John Gordon

Red-backed Shrike in Powell River - Photos: Iwan Van Veen


  1. Brilliant bird and photos. Having been involved in the finding of the UK’s sixth Brown Shrike (here Red-backed Shrikes are quite common) I did quite a bit of reading on and field observation of this species pair. I’d be absolutely astonished if this turned out to be anything other than a Red-backed Shrike. Numerous features point to this being a 1st winter Red-backed rather than Brown Shrike:
    (1) There are 7 primaries visible, which is right for Red-backed. Brown would show 4.
    (2) It lacks the short outer-most tail feathers, which should be evident except when Brown is moulting its tail. But I see no evidence of this.
    (3) The dark-subterminal-band-pattern of tail feathers, tertials and greater coverts.
    (4) It fundamentally looks like a classic Red-backed Shrike and there is very little to suggest Brown Shrike.

    What a bird to get on your side of the Atlantic!

  2. Thank you all who came to Powell River. I am happy that many of you got to see the Red-backed Shrike. It was great to meet so many birders, it made it possible for me to put faces to names I recognize from Ebird. Thank you all for your kind words. Happy birding to all