Thursday, June 25, 2009

Butcher Birds


For a change
I went to walk
in the community
where my son and partner live,
hoping to see more kangaroos...

this home, next to my son's
is a good example
of contemporary Australian architecture

but it is not for that reason
that I am showing you...

look up at the top right hand corner
of the roof
Do you see a little speck?

let me draw
you in
a little closer

and closer still
can you see him now?

He is a Butcher Bird
a magpie like bird
native to Australasia

As soon as my son drives up to his house
Butcher Bird flies down to greet him
ever hopeful of a snack

which is often presented...
The bird on the right is very tame
the one on the left skittish...
she grabs a morsel
then quickly hops away...

The butcher bird
gets his name from the way
he impales captured prey
on a thorn or tree fork or crevice

His straight bill
with hook at the end skewers the prey

He eats insects mainly
but likes lizards and meat

the food that he leaves in his tree larder
he may eat or save for later
and also it may attract a mate

Butcher birds are woodland birds
that have adapted well to urbanisation
They are very opportunistic and intelligent
showing little fear
readily taking food offerings
and for that reason
easily become semi tame

Butcher Birds have
beautiful high pitched songs
of great subtlety,
and also good mimicry.

You can hear one here...



  1. I never knew that about skewering! They certainly have the beaks for it!

  2. Hi RR

    they are quite lovable birds don't you think?
    I prefer the magpie's warble, the butcher birds around here aren't nearly as melodic as the utube one.

    Happy days

  3. hello Delwyn..the butcher birds song around this area are very diverse beautiful at times calling out to my neighbor for some munchies..I love having them around as this was my mothers favorite bird..Hope that your foot is not giving you to much trouble getting around for someone as active as you!

    xxx Mona

  4. I enjoy discovering the different reasons birds come to have their distinct names...Lovely sounnding bird also.

  5. Hi dear Mona

    The leg has been a bit sore today, more painful than previous days. I have the boot on now and it is rather heavy so have been resting.
    I can't imagine how it will be to sleep in but will tell you that tomorrow...
    How are things in your world?

    Happy days

  6. Hi Wanda
    this is a very common bird and I always thought it was because of his B&W stripes that he was named the butcher- after the aprons butchers it is good to learn more...I agree...

    Happy days.

  7. Wonderful, wonderful photos! And listening to their song took me straight back to my Grandmama's garden in Brisbane!

  8. PS. So sorry to read that you're injured. Ouch, that ankle looks really painful. Yes, I think a telephone lens is just the answer while your recuperate.

  9. Ahhh the joy of listening to birds. He was quite long winded, wasn't he? It is amazing to me how birds & other wildlife have adapted to urban life. We have large crows that come in our backyard, but they just caw, caw, caw... no songbird there.

    As I write this the very large rabbit is in my backyard eating with the cardinals & chickadees under the bird feeder. I have to post or email a photo of a cardinal to you... when they are in breeding plumage they are quite lovely. Right now some are loosing some of their bright feathers.

  10. Do you have the same superstitions about this bird as people have it about the magpie in the UK?

    Lovely post and beautiful bird, too.

    Greetings from London.

  11. What an interesting bird. You got close enough to take its picture and it was quite comfortable with your presence. And smart enough to save food to attract a mate. Ah!

  12. Yep, I'm sure I'd be all hot to trot if some guy left me a skewered lizard. Seriously, they're beautiful birds and the video of their song is wonderful.

  13. What a lovely bird! I'd never heard of it before and hearing the birdsong was an added treat. I so enjoy learning about your part of the world, Delwyn.

    I grow blueberries (and leave the top branches for the birds) and put out bird seed and we get Cardinals, Red-Headed Woodpeckers, Mockingbirds, Bluebirds, Sparrows, Bluejays and Hummingbirds. I love watching them, especially the bright red Cardinals!

  14. Thank you for sharing this post about a remarkable bird. I enjoyed listening to the singing on the You Tube video.

    I've been sending healing thoughts east and south across the Pacific. I hope you're feeling/healing well.

  15. He's so happy! It's like "Singin' in the Rain" or the shower without the need for water. And you can still tell a colorful, suspenseful story in photos and words, Delwyn.
    How in your moonboot? How does it get that name? Dr. Margaret says, "Put your leg up as much as you can." Take care.

  16. I had no idea you were injured! Get well as soon as possible because we need you to take us on beautiful walks--otherwise, we'll all turn into couch potatoes.


  17. Hi Tessa

    Fancy you having grandma in Brisbane... I don't think I knew that...

    thanks for the commiserations...

    This too shall pass...

    Happy days

  18. Hi Lizzy

    didn't he have a diverse repertoire...and a cute manner...looked like he was fluffed up after the rain...

    I agree with you about the crows. They are the first thing we hear in the mornings...

    I'd like to see if your cardinal is the one I think my favourite little bird in Kauai is...

    Happy Days

  19. Mr C

    obviously not cos I can't think of any. Please elucidate ...

    Nice to have you as always

    Happy days

  20. Hi Rosaria,

    once my son put the muesli out for them we shut the glass door and I knelt down close, maybe he sensed I was behind the glass and he felt safe but they do get very tame.

    One day my son's partner was typing on her laptop at the table and this butcher bird swooped inside and nibbled a sausage roll on a plate next to her.

    Happy days

  21. Meri

    I suppose if he skewered a good job or car or home...he could be appealing too....

    I'm glad you liked this friendly fellow...

    happy Days

  22. Hi Marion

    I have a soft spot for the cardinal too...we have a crested pigeon that looks a little similar but grey all over so not as pretty ...

    Thanks for being such an enthusiastic follower Marion...

    Happy days

  23. Thank you Dan

    you are very sweet and i am touched.

    Happy days

  24. Hello Mrgaret

    Wasn't he a joyous little bird... I loved his body movements...It made me smile....

    Thanks for this encouragement too. I'll drop you a note...

    Happy days

  25. Hi there Jelica

    well it is going to be at least 6 weeks before I walk again - I have a few walks up my sleeve in storage, but otherwise I will have to change tack...Now i will think of something to get you moving
    otherwise we will all be developing those big Rubens Butts (as Lizzy suggested was more apt than Picasso.)

    Happy days

  26. I saw Magpies for the first time in my life in Holland. These do look like them. Pretty cool he comes down for a snack. Delwyn, there is an award waiting for you at my blog!!!!It is the Premio Meme Award. You need to name 7 things about yourself and give the award away to 7 more bloggers!

  27. Hi Lorac

    thank you for the kind gesture...Its time I gave out some awards... with all this sitting around I shall get around to it...

    happy Days


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