Bird #96 — Loggerhead Shrike

lanius (butcher) ludovicianus (Louisiana Territory)

Wednesday, November 21, 1979 — 9:30 am

Conway, Arkansas — Sperry’s house

Al and Ruth Johnson, good friends of the Sperrys, retired from Back to the Bible at the same time that Art left and moved to Conway.  The Johnsons rented (for a pittance) the back half of the Sperry’s property and lived back there in a mobile home.  Along the edge of the property, a long gravel driveway extends from Happy Valley Road to the trailer.  Next to the driveway, a power line runs through a scrubby field.

It was on this wire that I first saw the shrike.  It was perched on the wire, looking around.  As I approached, it took off and flew to the top of a tree along the pond, then to the top of a bush out in another brushy field.

The pond, I should explain, is not on the Sperry’s property.  On the other side of the Johnson’s drive is another lot of the same size.  It is covered by tall grass, scattered saplings and dinky cedar trees.  The pond is about halfway back and is about an acre in extent.  Right on the edge of the pond is a band of thick vine tangles and a handful of larger trees. The owner is in Europe.  The lot lies abandoned, and the Sperrys and Johnsons have treated it as their own.  Al mows a section up to the edge of the pond.  The pond is muddy and uninviting, but over the years it has yielded a few fish to Sally’s brothers, served as a home to pet ducks until neighborhood dogs decided otherwise, and in 1989 did duty as an ice-skating rink.

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