Saturday, October 3, 2009

Stealing Shrike Food

I was moseying along a barbed-wire fence on the bombing range this week, waiting for a Red-cockaded cluster to wake up, when I noticed an odd object along one of the wires. On closer inspection, it was this utterly ridiculous-looking beetle, with a horn to make any rhinoceros or Triceratops jealous. It didn't move upon my approach, and then I realized it was impaled hard upon the barb - it must have been cached by a Loggerhead Shrike. The barb was stuck quite solidly into the thorax plate, but I was able to slide it off without serious damage to the specimen, thereby depriving the shrike of a critical meal (what an a-hole I am, right? Well, it was worth it). Check this thing out:

The entomologist at Archbold identified it for me as Phanaeus vindex, the Rainbow Scarab, a type of dung beetle (I'm sure they do just fine with all the cattle grazing out here). The colors on the thorax armor are just utterly brilliant (and not well captured here) and they change with the angle. This thing is amazing!


  1. Brilliant colouration on that guy.

  2. I've heard and seen shrikes doing this before. How good are they at actually remember where they left their snacks? I seem to remember that there have been studies with squirrels showing that they sometimes have trouble remembering where they've buried nuts. In this case since the food is visible it should be easier for them to keep track of.

    I'd also be curious if shrikes ever try to steal each others' food that has been saved for later.

  3. spetsnaz - Avon Park Air Force Range, Florida