On Saturday morning we stopped to explore a patch of eucalypt regrowth (~2m
high on the western side of Drake Brockman Drive, Holt. Immediately we were met
by a phalanx of bellicose Brown Thornbills buzzing like angry blowflys in a
bottle. Suspected there was nesting nearby so withdrew from the immediate
area. Elder Brat moved deeper into the scrub, returning saucer-eyed, "There's a
butcher bird eating a little butter butt [Yellow-rumped Thornbill]."
"A grey Butcher Bird?" I asked.
"No, a rusty ... rusty-fronted one."
"You sure you're not looking at an immature Collared
"Listen, I know a butcher bird from a sparrowhawk!" Ms Cat asserted, arms
Followed her into the brush, and saw a male Rufous Whistler pecking at an
apparently dead Yellow-rumped Thornbill on the ground. Never seen a Rufous
Whistler ground feeding let alone partaking avian flesh. Crept to within 4m
before the whistler left, then examined the fallen. The Whistler appeared to
have been feeding on the breast of the Thornbill. Only other sign of damage was
a deep injury at the base of the nape which may well have damaged or even
smashed the spine, but whether this was inflicted by the Whistler is
Missum looked a mite miffed. "Cheer up, kid," I says, "This could be a STOP
PRESS in the annals of Australian ornithology. Whether it is or not, I don't
know. Had a quick look at HANZAB but didn't notice any mention of Rufous
Whistlers taking small birds.