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Grey Butcherbird

Grey_Butcherbird grey_butcherbird_(2) grey_butcherbird_(1)
Common name
Grey Butcherbird
Scientific name
Cracticus torquatus
Size – beak to tail
24 – 30 cm
Wing span
Birds of the Bluff
Page 39
Where to find
A range of wooded areas, including urban areas.

Butcherbirds look a bit like miniature kookaburras, with a similar shaped beak and body. The butcherbird does in fact have a very fine hook on the tip of the beak. The adult has a black head, grey back and black wingtips and tail. The underparts are a light grey and the upper body is grey. The face and top of the head is black with a white flash in front of the eye. Young birds have a brown head and back and the throat and underparts are a dirty fawn.

The Butcherbird’s name is derived from its habit of hanging its prey of small lizards, mice or young birds on a forked branch. It may be a day or two before the butcherbird returns to eat the decaying meat. They feed on insects, reptiles, small rodents and small birds. Larger prey catches are stored in tree forks, and later eaten.  They have a lovely, rollicking song, with a flutey quality, which belies their aggressive and intimidating nature. They feed on insects, reptiles, small rodents and small birds.