Fwd: Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Question about Grey Butcherbirds

Subject: Fwd: Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Question about Grey Butcherbirds
From: "Belinda Cassidy" <>
Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2008 19:02:48 +1000
> * HANZAB states with respect to plumage and timing of moult 'sexes
> alike'.  *
Hi Greg,
I can partially agree with this.The timing of moult to full adult plumage
for each sex may easily be around the same time. By then, the males pretty
much look like adults so the change is barely noticable. With females, the
change is dramatic going  from a light fawn-brown colour to black and a buff
grey & white breast .Here are some pictures of what we have observed, if
you'd like to see some pics:

 1. A female during her immature-to-adult moult , at around 16 months of

2. A male juvenile butcherbird, at  3 months of age:

3: A male at  5 months (on the left) with his sister from the top photos
(back facing to the camera, on the right).

*I wonder if some of the differences that you have noted are just individual

No I don't think so Greg. Grey butcherbirds certainly have individual
personalities, but the differences between male and female behaviour is
distinct. Maybe a couple of years ago I would have thought of  female
behaviour versus male behaviour  as just a gut instinct and I wouldn't feel
very certain about the identification. But the fact the ones we think of as
females repeatedly go onto lay eggs and sit on them for a month each year
proved to us which is which.

Like I said, in their children, the behavioural differences are even more
noticeable. Its like watching little boys playing with toy swords in groups
and trying to kill each other, and little girls playing with dolls and
trying to relate to being like their mother. Young Grey butcherbirds have
the same identification with the same-sex adult parent.

The ( now) two year old  female (in the top 2 photos) went through stages of
closely observing and mimicing her mother's every behaviour, like a little
shadow, especially during nesting and when the new clutch was born. For
example, when her mother was building the nest, her daughter would grab
purple flowers and pink ribbons from the cemetery, and arrange them
carefully in a small nearby tree. She'd rip them to bits, and arrange them
'just so'. When the new brood had left the nest, the daughter stayed with
the mother constantly, watching and mimicing the way she foraged for food,
fed the young ones, and what calls she made and when.

PS. I was wondering if you know if the HANZAB you have mentions anything
about the way Grey Butcherbirds language dialects differ so greatly between
regions? My field guides don't mention this, but its something we;ve noticed
as something unique to Grey Butcherbirds.


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