I’ve seen an immature Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus) in the same spot in Waverton several times now— sometimes by itself and sometimes with another older bird. Compared with an adult bird, it looks a little scruffy:
Its half-grey beak suggests it’s in its second year, and the diffuse white patch between its beak and eye indicates a female. However, the sex distinction in the white patches of local birds seems less marked than elsewhere, so I can’t be certain.
When I took my first picture, she gave me a glance:
Then she resumed checking the ground below:
She soon spotted something and pounced:
After her snack, she paused to check the coast was clear:
She flew back up:
Back in the tree, she scanned the ground for her next titbit.
At that point she was distracted by dog-walkers, so my attention turned to the bees on the abundant Angophora blossoms in the trees behind me:
A few days later, while I was watching her, she plonked herself on a branch near me.
She seemed to be keeping an eye out for other Butcherbird company.
She lifted her head preparatory to calling:
And gave what I believe were ‘contact ‘calls, but quite softly (Butcherbirds can be very loud):
She repeated the calls and I was able to take a short video/sound recording. On another occasion she came even closer to me, and I made a couple of brief videos then. She also caught an insect under a branch. The videos are spliced together here.
Back home, I checked my older photos, and realised I may have photographed her as a juvenile. On that occasion, she was being fed by her father about 200m from where she was now:
In another year she should be in adult plumage and looking very svelte, like this:
Grey Butcherbirds are the smallest in the Butcherbird family in Australia, and are found over the southern 2/3rds of the continent. Others in the family include the Currawongs and the Australian Magpie. Like their two cousins, Grey Butcherbirds have loud, distinctive and melodious calls. We are lucky enough to hear them in the early morning, echoing across the valley below our house. The most common call is the contact call, louder and more echoing than “my” bird’s call in the video. They also give a three-note call, the last note being a bit lower than the first two. This call always reminds me of what I used to call a Rainbird but is actually the Red-chested Cuckoo (Cuculus solitarius) found in most of sub-Saharan Africa.