Pied Butcherbird in Central NSW

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Subject: Pied Butcherbird in Central NSW
From: "alan morris" <>
Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2005 12:50:05 +1000
Hi Birders,

I have been interested in the comments of various contributors to the habitats ands distribution of the Pied Butcherbird in Central NSW.

Originally Pied Butcherbirds were an inland species that penetrated to the coast from the Central Tablelands via the open woodlands of the Hunter Valley and then north along the NSW Coast. The dense forest south of the Hunter and the dense Hawkesbury Sandstone ranges, prevented penetration further south.

With the coming of European settlement to the Hunter Valley and the clearing of the land for agriculture, particularly dairy up the Wollombi Valley, around Cessnock, and south to Mandalong and Wyong, saw the spread south of the Pied Butcherbirds. However the forests and sandstone forests stopped movement further south. While there is no dairying going on nowdays in Wyong Shire, golfcourses, playing fields, open space reseves all nicely landscaped with native trees, and some horse & cattle grazing still provide breeding habitat for Pied Butcherbirds.

In autumn and winter some Pied Butcherbirds move into the seaside suburbs of the Central Coast like Bateau Bay & Shelley Beach where there is apparently enough open space to provide them with suitable feeding areas. So from my house in the autumn mornings, the carolling of Grey Butcherbirds, magpies and Pied Butcherbirds fills the air. However these birds disappear in spring, perhaps because the more aggressive Grey Butcherbirds and Australian Magpies are not prepared to tolerate them during their breeding season.

As there would seem to be plenty of suitable habitat for Pied Butcherbirds on the Cumberland Plains, west of Sydney, particularly in the open space reserves, domestic stock grazing areas, sports fields etc and golf courses, it is hard to understand why they have not settled there whereas Choughs and Apostlebirds have been able to maintain a presence! The only two records I know for Sydney Region have been for Heathcote and Ashbury, hardly the open space areas one would expect to find Pied Butcherbirds!

Alan Morris
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