That is a Loggerhead Shrike, a very rare bird to see in Minnesota these days. Once considered a common inhabitant of our state, however, its preferred habitat of vast grassland with scattered shrubs or small trees is increasingly hard to find, leaving the status of this bird species in Minnesota as endangered. Minneopa’s park naturalist, Scott Kukelka, says that it has been years since someone has seen a Loggerhead Shrike in the park, but there have been a couple sightings in the Mankato area.
Fun fact: Shrikes might look as harmless as mockingbirds, but these black-masked “butcherbirds,” as they’re known, pack more fierceness ounce for ounce than any other bird in the country. Read this great article about Shrikes: https://www.audubon.org/news/shrikes-have-absolutely-brutal-way-killing-large-prey
Frontenac has over 260 bird species that have been documented in the park–more than any other. This park is located on the Mississippi River where it naturally widens to become known as Lake Pepin. Many birds use the Mississ
ippi as a migration corridor and Frontenac has a diversity of habitat within its boundaries.
Last year, Parks & Trails Council conveyed 159 acres to Frontenac that includes part of Pleasant Valley Lakelet and stream, adding even more critical bird habitat to the park.
Four years ago, about 17% of state park visitors who were surveyed said they participated in birdwatching during their visit. People older than 44 years were more likely to watch birds than younger folks. Of course, the pandemic has changed a lot of things, and birding is now becoming a hot new activity for many a millennial. Time will tell if the trend holds, but clearly birding deserves its growing appreciation.