A few years ago, wandering along the edge of an unmowed meadow, I found a strange display arranged along the top of an old metal fence. Enormous lubber grasshoppers — four inches long and glossy black — were neatly impaled in a row, upside down with their lifeless legs pointed at the sky. There were nine or 10 of them, each on top of a vertical metal post like a macabre architectural detail. What animal had done this? I wondered. Lubbers are toxic, so what was the reason to capture them and spike them on the fence?
I had discovered the pantry of a loggerhead shrike, a dapper bird whose small size belies his fierce reputation as a hunter. Blessed with a sharp, hooked beak but no talons, the shrike kills and impales his food because he cannot grasp it in his slender feet. Leftovers remain in place for a later meal.
Wisely, the shrike leaves the eastern lubber grasshopper on its spike for several days, waiting for the toxins to dissipate, and consumes them after that.
Today, we will use three tonal values in pencil to draw this beautiful bird. Watch the video and print the three attached pdf pages before you draw.
Click for video.