Saturday, June 30, 2012

Carnivorous Butcherbird on Veranda

This little guy has been visiting nearly every day for some weeks now.

It's a relative of the magpie.

Rear view:

The other day, alongside a visiting lorikeet:

It's a Grey butcherbird:
The adult Grey Butcherbird has a black crown and face and a grey back, with a thin white collar. The wings are grey, with large areas of white and the underparts are white. The grey and black bill is large, with a small hook at the tip of the upper bill. The eye is dark brown and the legs and feet are dark grey. Both sexes are similar in plumage, but the females are slightly smaller than the males. Young Grey Butcherbirds resemble adults, but have black areas replaced with olive-brown and a buff wash on the white areas. The bill is completely dark grey and often lacks an obvious hook. They are sometimes mistaken for small kingfishers.
I walked by the veranda door this morning and this little guy was standing on the edge of a flower pot looking in at me like, "Where's my brekkie?"

Like the magpies, butcherbirds are carnivores:
Grey Butcherbirds are aggressive predators. They prey on small animals, including birds, lizards and insects, as well as some fruits and seeds. Uneaten food may be stored in the fork or a branch or impaled. Grey Butcherbirds sit on an open perch searching for prey which, once sighted, they pounce on. Most mobile prey is caught on the ground, though small birds and insects may be caught in flight. Feeding normally takes place alone, in pairs or in small family groups. That's a little piece of mince - ground beef - in his beak.
Here's video of this morning's butcherbird, with a little piece of mince - ground beef - to fly away with. (You can pause it to see the whiskers that jut out from the base of its beak.)

Good shots of the hook on its beak, and great audio of it's beautiful song, here.

Updated: This post has been edited - as I mistakenly said butcherbirds were related to the kingfishers. They are not! I am very sorry!


  1. Nice post! I love butcher birds and have befriended several thru the years. A couple of years ago a visiting kid was mucking about with his socks on the verandah, throwing them up in the air and catching them. One of my friends swooped down and plucked one from the air and disappeared. No more sock, and a crying little boy!

    1. Oh, that is fantastic. I just learned yesterday via looking through videos that people make friends with them, and get them to warble and sing! Too cool! I will be trying the same!

  2. Great post Thom...I love what you can see down there without even leaving your house! GB