Butcherbirds & magpies

To: <>
Subject: Butcherbirds & magpies
From: Syd Curtis <>
Date: Fri, 28 May 2004 22:03:57 +1000
On 27.05.04, Colin Driscoll described an incident involving a butcherbird
and a magpie:

> I was watching a Grey Butcherbird outside my window about to have a feed of
> a small garden skink. The Bb persisted in trying to get the skink hooked in
> a small fork of twigs as is their habit so that he could pick it to
> bite-sized pieces. He got the tail off and swallowed that and was about to
> continue when a magpie walked under the tree, looked up, flew 5m vertically
> and delicately took the remains almost from the Bb beak.
> I thought that it was interesting in that the Magpie clearly knew what was
> going on and must have done this a few times before.

Reminded me of something I watched about 50 years ago in the Imbil State
Forest (south of Gympie, Qld.).  A Hoop Pine plantation was being thinned.
Selected trees were cut and snigged to a loading ramp in an open grassy area
at the edge of the plantation.  The snigger was having lunch and throwing
crusts to the birds - a couple of magpies and a pied butcherbird.

It seemed that the magpies being bigger, demanded and got first go at the
food.  The butcherbird made no attempt to dive in for a crust - which I
thought to be a bit strange.  But soon all became clear.

After eating a certain amount, a magpie picked up a crust flew some metres
away and hid it for later.  That was what Butch had been waiting for.  As
soon as Maggie returned to the dining area, Butch retrieved and ate the
piece Maggie had cached.

A couple of weeks ago when watering a plant in a hanging basket on our back
verandah (Hawthorne, Brisbane), I noticed a piece of cake - approx. a 15mm
cube - in the basket.  We did not have that sort of cake in the house.
There had not been any visitors.  Intrigued, I left it untouched to show my
wife ... but forgot about it.  Mystery solved next morning when I found a
Grey Butcherbird eating it.



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