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In 1997, the wild population of Eastern loggerhead shrikes in Canada had decreased to only 18 known pairs. At that time, 43 nestlings were collected from wild nests in Ontario to found a captive population and rebuild the population of this species at risk.

Over the last two decades, 198 young have been hatched out at the Toronto Zoo with the majority being released to the wild. Last year alone, the Toronto Zoo hatched 38 shrike, of which 30 birds were released to the wild. In total that year, the breeding program in Ontario, which includes other breeding facilities in the province, produced 96 shrikes with 73 released into the wild.

This season, we have nine breeding pairs and all are producing young. They started nesting early enough in the year that some of them might be able to start a second clutch. Either way, this promises to be a bumper year for the Eastern loggerhead shrike; the Zoo anticipates they will surpass their ambitious goal of seeing 50 fledglings raised this year!


“The loggerhead shrike is a striking bird with some remarkable behaviours. Sadly, although this species is found widely throughout North America, it is in decline continent-wide,” said Dr. Kevin Kerr, Curator of Birds and Invertebrates, Toronto Zoo. “The eastern population has already disappeared from a few provinces and is just barely hanging on in Ontario; a different subspecies is found in the Prairie Provinces but it too is threatened. It would be a shame to see this unusual species disappear from Canada entirely.”


This program continues to successfully see members of this imperiled species released into the wild and the Toronto Zoo is proud to partner with Wildlife Preservation Canada and other local breeding facilities on such an important conservation initiative. Various specialists and departments at the Toronto Zoo, including Wildlife Health and Wildlife Nutrition, work together on this program and commit hours of care and observations to support the Eastern Loggerhead Shrike Breeding Program.

      CLICK HERE to learn more about Toronto Zoo’sEastern Loggerhead Shrike Breeding Program.

                               CLICK HERE to learn more about the Eastern loggerhead shrike.

Photo Credit: K. Wright, Toronto Zoo

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