Grey Butcherbird

To: "" <>
Subject: Grey Butcherbird
From: Philip Veerman <>
Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2019 00:40:09 +0000

There is also a relevant quote in The GBS Report. This was on data up to 2002 (ten years after publication of The COG Atlas). The species has climbed over the suburban hurdle since then. (Once again, evidence that The GBS Report needs to be updated…….


Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus

This is a common species in major east coast cities, yet it is rare in Canberra. This would suggest that it is

not the urban environment itself that causes the scarcity. In our area it occurs in woodland and along the

Murrumbidgee river corridor. Maybe it is the competition from the abundant Pied Currawong that impacts

adversely on this bird (see also the Laughing Kookaburra text). Records are mostly of isolated individuals and

not many have repeat observations. So the bird passes through, rather than stays in the urban area.

Numbers are much higher from February to June, than July to January. This may reflect dispersal during the

non-breeding period. Its distribution suddenly increased from an average of 4.47% for the first 18 years to

10%, 18% then 22% for the last three years, which created the huge recent abundance increase.

Graphs on page: 103, Rank: 102, A = 0.00310, F = 6.21%, W = 5.1, R = 0.303%, G = 1.02.


There are also several mentions of the species in the introductory sections of the publication.

I now get the species through most of the year at (or near) my home. Seen or heard at or from home, so it goes on the GBS chart.




From: Geoffrey Dabb [
Sent: Friday, 30 August, 2019 8:43 AM
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Grey Butcherbird


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.

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