For those who came in more recently, the background is that this is a bird with a history. (Although you might reasonably think all birds have a history.) The 1992 COG atlas said ‘Despite intensive observation,
there are only a handful of urban records. Their absence from the city is surprising in view of their ubiquity in larger cities such as Sydney and Melbourne; their low numbers in Canberra have been linked to the city’s poor lizard fauna …’
Anecdotal reporters of the species usually have that background in mind. There is no doubt GBb numbers are increasing in the suburbs, for whatever reason. One is tempted to point to feeding by suburbanites,
although the appearance of the species near housing seems to be preceded by a build-up in numbers in adjacent woodland, according to my observations.
From: Mark Clayton <>
Sent: Thursday, 29 August 2019 2:55 PM
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Grey Butcherbird
I have a sneaky feeling that the two Grey Butcherbirds that moved in on us a year or so ago in Kaleen may be breeding. We have suddenly gone down to the adult male who regularly carries food scraps off in a certain direction. Last year they raised three
young but at a later date than at present. The local Red Wattlebirds are also probably feeding young as they too fly off with scraps that we throw out. I think they are nesting next door -this is the first year that I have not found their nest. My resident
Australian Raven pair is also down to one and again I suspect they are nesting but haven't been down to the local park to check out their usual nest tree.
On 29/08/2019 2:43 pm, wrote:
Very interesting Geoffrey, Wilf Hedley informed me this morning that Grey Butcherbirds had built a nest in his backyard in Rivett. This is similar timing to 2017 when he had a rare example of successful double nesting for this species.
We wrote up together in CBN, so I’m very interested to see if it happens again. I’m also interested if any young birds help at the nest, as they appeared to do in 2017, which also seems to be rare.
From: Geoffrey Dabb
Sent: Thursday, 29 August 2019 1:16 PM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Grey Butcherbird
A pair is showing signs of nesting in the small neighbourhood park of Rocky Knob. They are of a confiding nature, coming to the backdoor for a scrap of flung meat. Below snap taken just now of the pair in the Feijoa tree from 2m away.
The upper out of focus bird has the dusky plumage of a younger bird. Their catching ability while on the wing is remarkable. A piece of flung mince from 2m is taken at the mid-point (ie 1m from the flinger)and the bird is able to reverse direction with a
couple of wingbeats before flying quickly away..