Grey Butcherbird

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Habitat: Urban, Forest, Woodland, Coastal, Rainforest, Heathland

Grey Butcherbirds are found in a range of wooded habitats, including suburban areas. In inland areas they favour denser woodlands

Butcherbirds get their name from their habit of hanging captured prey on a hook or in a tree fork, or crevice. This ‘larder’ is used to support the victim while it is being eaten, to store several victims or to attract mates. When a nest or newly fledged chick is around, if you venture too close, a butcherbird will swoop by flying straight at your face, sometimes striking with enough force to draw blood, and each swoop is accompanied by a loud, maniacal cackle. Despite this, their song is a rich piping with some mimicry and harsher notes.

Grey Butcherbirds are 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.

The Grey Butcherbird’s nest is bowl-shaped, and is made of sticks and twigs, lined with grasses and other soft fibres. It is normally located within 10m off the ground. Clutch size is 3 to 5 eggs. The eggs are incubated by the female (25 days) and the young birds are fed by both parents. The nestling period is 28 days. The young birds will remain in the breeding territory for about a year, and help the parents raise the young of the following season. Breeding season is July to January.