Grey Butcherbirds, much like Ravens, are meat-loving birds that aren't afraid to come near to our homes and gardens. In fact, our backyards are often a treasure trove for these buddies that eat insects, beetles, caterpillars, mice, lizards, skinks and other small buddies.
The Grey Butcherbird, Cracticus torquatus, is found across Australia, from mid-eastern Queensland, through southern Australia, including Tasmania, to northern Western Australia. There is an isolated population in the Kimberley and the northernmost parts of the Northern Territory.
Buddies like the Grey Butcherbird are not only garden visitors but are also attracted to our streets, where they can scavenge on road kill. This may not sound too appealing, but it's actually a useful job the Grey Butcherbird performs for us. It helps keep our environment clean and healthy by recycling nutrients back into the soil.
To attract native birds including Butcherbirds to your garden install a bird bath or put out containers of clean, fresh water each day. Many different kinds of birds will drink from them or take a dip on a hot day. You will soon discover that most birds enjoy a chance to wet their feathers and fluff themselves up afterwards.
Grey Butcherbirds have a dark side. Many small birds tremble in fear when they hear the beautiful, rollicking call of this bird, which it often performs in a duet. That's because small birds, their chicks and eggs are on the menu of the Grey Butcherbird.
Butcherbirds get their name from their gruesome way of feeding. The Grey Butcherbird'۪s mean-looking hooked beak gives you a clue. When they catch prey, they hang it off a branch or tree fork, and hack the meat away, just like a butcher. It also hangs uneaten food in the fork of a branch or impaled on a twig (their 'larder') and comes back to eat the leftovers later.
The adult Grey Butcherbird has a black head and face and a grey back, with a thin white collar. The wings are grey, with large areas of white and are white underneath. Their large hooked beaks are grey and black. The females are slightly smaller than the males but have the same colouring.
Grey Butcherbirds love to eat meat such as lizards, mice, beetles, insects, chicks and small birds, and other small buddies. When they spy their prey, they pounce quickly on it, or can even catch prey in mid-air.
Grey Butcherbirds will also occasionally eat fruit and seeds, which you may see them hunting for in your garden.
Spring is a good time to see a Grey Butcherbird with its chicks. These birds breed from July to January each year. The females lay three to five eggs in a nest up to 10 metres high off the ground. The female will incubate her eggs for about 25 days, and then both parents feed the chicks.
In some Grey Butcherbird families, the chicks will stay around for a year after they have fledged to help their parents raise the next set of chicks.
Grey Butcherbirds have a wide variety of rich, melodious calls.
Did you know?
Grey Butcherbirds have almost frontal vision, much like a raptor. This kind of vision helps them find their prey. Look out for them perching above areas you have just dug up in the garden, looking for grubs or other unearthed bugs.
What bird is that? Many birds look similar and can be hard to tell apart from a distance. Black and white birds are some of the most commonly seen in our backyards. Pied Butcherbird The Pied Butcherbird has a beautiful, musical call that sounds like loud, clear notes from a flute. T..
The Eastern Koel is a common buddy in many backyards in cities and towns across eastern and northern Australia. Traditionally inhabiting woodlands and rainforests, they're also comfortable in urban places, particularly where there are tall trees to hide in and lots of fruiting plants. K..
Laughing Kookaburras have a complex social structure and communicate with a wide variety of sounds. Their distinctive “laugh” is actually warning other kookaburras to stay out of their territory. To let other kookaburras know where their home territory is, a family group will laugh througho..
Masked Lapwings are a common visitor to grassy and wet areas of our cities and towns. They love to nest on the ground in parks, school ovals, golf courses, sports fields, and pastures. Masked Lapwings breed after wet weather, in summer and autumn in northern Australia and during winter t..
The Noisy Miner is a common buddy in many backyards in cities and towns across eastern Australia. Their noisy call can be a nuisance but there are lots of ways to manage them and enjoy their helpful behaviours. Traditionally inhabiting open woodlands, they're also comfortable in urban places..
Growing up to 51 cm, Pied Currawongs are impossible to miss. Their jet black feathers are a striking contrast to their bright yellow eyes. Pied Currawongs also have splotches of white on their tail, undertail and wing tips, which are revealed when they fly. These birds have a cheeky stre..
Rainbow lorikeets tend to roost in large groups and can be seen just on dusk arriving by the hundreds at their favourite roosting place, usually in tall eucalypts. These colourful birds can be seen almost anywhere along the east coast of Australia. Their behaviour is quite comical at times, ..