Lanius collurio: the Red-Backed Shrike
Victim or Villain?
Much like a sparrow from some exotic clime
far from the northern grey and chill unwelcoming
of a breezy English day, a Red-Backed Shrike
with rich chestnut cloak and mask of velvet black,
blue hooded and royally imperious,
masquerades as a proud young Venetian prince.
A rare little bird, a feisty little bird,
born in the land where his ancestors were born.
He sits high on a post overlooking a stream
which flows chattering through a bright green valley,
looking for meat to feed his growing chicks,
for this is springtime when the pickings are good,
and the Butcher Bird earns once more his name
as he impales his prey on a ladder of thorns.
A brave little bird, a clever little bird,
at home again where his ancestors were born.
But will he survive the journey he must make
to find a warm Winter's sun, where massacred
in their millions, tiny birds are trapped and shot
for "sport," served up as culinary delights,
caged as pets, their migration flight paths become
bitter Afro-European killing grounds?
Will our vulnerable little bird fly back home
returning to where his ancestors were born?
Perhaps - I do not know. God grant that he may.