Wildlife Preservation Canada

Wildlife Preservation Canada

July 15, 2008 10:45 ET

Release of Captive-Bred “Butcher Birds” to Help Save Endangered Bird

Eastern loggerhead shrike recovery

Attention: Assignment Editor, Environment Editor, Lifestyle Editor, News Editor, Science Editor GUELPH, ONTARIO MEDIA ADVISORY--(Marketwire - July 15, 2008) - What: The release of captive-bred Eastern Loggerhead Shrikes - a unique and endangered songbird nicknamed the "butcher bird" because it impales its dead prey on thorns and barbed wire. Several of the captive-bred birds will be equipped with tiny radio transmitters to let biologists track them during migration.

Plus: Tours of the captive-breeding facilities and a demonstration of the radio transmitters used to track captive-bred shrikes after they are released.

Why: The captive breeding and release program was established in 1997 when the Ontario shrike population reached an all-time low of just 18 breeding pairs. Today, the program is a conservation success story in the making. The wild population now totals 27 pairs-a 150% increase-and 8 of those birds are captive-bred shrikes that survived the rigors of migration and returned north to breed.

Who: Wildlife Preservation Canada in partnership with local landowners. WPC is a charitable organization dedicated to saving highly endangered species from extinction and has earned international recognition for its expertise in captive breeding and release.

Where: Just north of Kirkfield Locks (40 km southeast of Orillia), 150 km northeast of Toronto (approximately 1.5 hours). Please call for directions.

When: Sunday, July 20 (10 birds) and Wednesday, July 23, 2008 (9 birds)
Facility tours and radio telemetry demonstrations at 3:00 p.m.; releases at 3:30 p.m. (depending on weather)

Note: To reduce disturbance to the birds, the actual release will be viewed at a distance. However, telescopes will be provided, and digital video and still images are also available.
/For further information: About WPC:
Wildlife Preservation Canada (WPC) is a charitable organization devoted to saving highly endangered animal species facing imminent extinction in Canada and internationally — species whose numbers in the wild are so low that a great deal more than habitat protection is required to recover them. Our conservation programs include research, captive breeding, reintroduction, habitat stewardship and public education — each a crucial part of species recovery — and all of our hands-on interventions are guided by scientific research and field data. For more information about WPC and the Eastern Loggerhead Shrike, please visit www.wildlifepreservation.ca.

About the Eastern Loggerhead Shrike:
The Eastern Loggerhead Shrike is a rare combination. It’s both a songbird and a bird of prey that hunts mice, insects and even small snakes and impales them on thorns and barbed wire. For the past fifty years, these so-called “butcher birds” have been disappearing from the Canadian grasslands where they were once a familiar sight. In Ontario, only a few dozen Eastern Loggerhead Shrikes remain in the wild.

About the Recovery Effort:
With the help of local landowners and volunteers, WPC has been breeding shrikes in large enclosures in their natural habitat and releasing them to boost the wild population. Since the captive breeding program was launched in 1997, more than 300 captive-bred shrikes have been released to save the wild population from extinction.

Another key part of the program is restoring the short grassland that shrikes depend on. Recovery efforts focus on the Carden Plain, the Bruce Peninsula and Napanee — areas where the black-masked birds were once a common sight. Last year, more than half the wild population nested in areas that had been restored. The current success wouldn’t be possible without the ongoing support of many landowners, volunteers and funders.

In addition to the Boisset Family Estates (makers of French rabbit wines) funding through the LCBO Natural Heritage Program towards the captive-breeding and release program, the shrike recovery program is being funded this year by Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Fund and the Province of Ontario’s Species at Risk Stewardship Fund.

About French rabbit:
Boisset Family Estates, owners of the French rabbit brand, is an innovative, eco-minded, family-owned producer of fine wines based in Burgundy, France. Boisset seeks to express the qualities of its wines with an “art de vivre” and style that consistently enhances terroir, provenance, history, heritage and quality. Boisset is leading innovations in the wine world that address climate change, reduce waste, reduce CO2 emissions, and protect the long-term sustainability of the wine industry. The philosophy behind each wine is tied to a vision of sustainability and desire to provide wines for every moment, mode of consumption and occasion. In July 2005, Boisset was the first producer to introduce wines in Tetra Pak in Ontario with the French rabbit brand. Today French rabbit is the number one selling wine in Tetra Pak containers in Canada.


Contact Information

  • Elaine Williams, Executive Director
    Primary Phone: 519-836-9314
    Secondary Phone: 519-823-6239
    Toll-Free: 800-956-6608
    E-mail: elaine@wildlifepreservation.ca