Backyard Buddies
Grey Shrike-thrush

Photo: Ken Stepnell/OEH

Grey Shrike-thrush

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The Grey Shrike-thrush, also known as a Grey Thrush, has a beautifully clear and melodious, rhythmic song. Their appearance is not so spectacular however, being mostly grey or brown, depending on the area it lives in. They are found all across Australia except in the most arid regions.

The call of the Grey Shrike-thrush varies throughout its range and between individual birds. Their common calls include 'pip-pip-pip-pip-hoee' and 'pur-pur-pur-kwee-yew' and a sharp 'yorrik!'.

In the east of Australia, Grey Shrike-thrushes are not shy at all. They feed and nest in gardens, parks and even very close to homes and sheds. They love to drink water that's left out for them and can even become quite tame.

The Grey Shrike-thrush has a varied diet of insects, spiders, small mammals, frogs and lizards, and birds' eggs and young chicks. They also eat fruits and seeds and have even been seen feeding on carrion. You might see them searching for food on the ground around fallen logs, and on the limbs and trunks of trees.

These birds have been known to nest in potted-plants, amongst rafters on building sites, in milk crates, in garages, and even in a bucket hung up in a tree.

In July, Grey Shrike-thrushes begin looking for a mate for breeding. They build a bowl-shaped nest out of thin strips of bark, plant fibres and grasses, which they line with very fine plant roots.

It takes about 17 days for the eggs to hatch, and the parents take turns sitting on the eggs to keep the winter chill away. Once the chicks hatch, they are looked after by their parents for another 17 days before they fledge.

It is not unusual for Grey Shrike-thrushes to have one to three (or even five if there is enough food) clutches in a breeding season. So if these birds build a nest near you, you could be enjoying their company again and again as they come back to raise new chicks.

In northern and western Australia, the Grey Shrike-thrush is a bit shyer. Listen out for them in undisturbed bushland and in any kind of forest. Look for them high up amongst the tree branches, or even hopping vigorously along the ground.

TIP

Put out a container of clean water in your garden to attract a range of birds and lizards. You could also try putting some improvised nest boxes (buckets, empty pots) around your place. You may just attract some very interesting visitors.

DID YOU KNOW?

Grey Shrike-thrushes will try to impress or fight off their own reflection if they see it in a mirror.

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”Protecting & safeguarding Australia’s wilderness & wildlife is important for the health and enjoyment for our future generations, thanks FNPW for your support of our project.“

Dr Ricky Spencer – Lead Scientist Murray River Turtle Project, NSW

Photo: OEH