American Birds: 1986

[Brown Shrike on Olema Marsh, Marin, California]
American Birds 1986. 41(2): 325.

California's 2nd Brown Shrike was found near Olema Marsh, Marin, Nov. 28+ (ph. M. Denny, KGH, m.ob.). The first was at Southeast Farallon Island, Sept. 20, 1984 (American Birds 39:99). There are only four other North American records, all from Alaska. Unsuspecting birders on the Pt. Reyes Christmas Bird Count Dec. 20, unaware of Denny's startling discovery 3 weeks earlier, misidentified it as a Northern Shrike. The identification did not become clear until Hintsa correctly identified it as a Brown Shrike Jan. 14. It remained cooperative for most of its stay, generating national interest and even appearing on television.

The only North American specimen of Brown Shrike, an immature collected at Shemya Oct. 10, 1978, was attributed to the race L. c. lucionensis by Gibson (Condor 83: 65-77, 1981). That is the most southerly of the four races and would appear to be the least likely race to reech North America. According to Medway (Ibis 112: 184-198, 1970), immature Brown Shrikes are not identifiable to race even in the hand. Further confirmation of the racial identity of the Shemya specimen is warranted. This season's bird eventually molted into adult plumage exhibiting a bright rufous crown and relatively indistinct supercilium characteristic of the L. c. cristatus/confusus subspecies group (Dean, British Birds 75: 395-406, 1982). This group is far more likely to reach North America than L. c. lucionensis on geographic grounds, as it includes the most northerly populations.