Grey Butcherbird mimicry

To: <>
Subject: Grey Butcherbird mimicry
From: "Margaret Cameron" <>
Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2007 21:47:16 +1000
HANZAB says mimicry by the Grey Butcherbird has been "often recorded". Well, it 
hadn't been recorded often by me - in fact I don't think I'd noticed it until 
yesterday 6 March at about 4 pm (real time not Daylight saving). HANZAB quotes 
an instance of 6 species mimicked in one bout of Whisper Song.

The sound of several species in the garden, one after another, led me to find a 
Grey Butcherbird in a tall melaleuca; in one bout of Whisper Song (about 15 
minutes) this bird mimicked at least 13 species: Magpie, Magpie Lark, Willie 
Wagtail (both song and scold), both local Friarbirds (Noisy and Little), Common 
Mynahs, Pied Butcherbird, Masked Lapwing, Rainbow Lorikeet (sounding more like 
a flock than a single bird), Pale headed Rosella, Galah, Doublebarred Finches, 
Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike, and gave other calls I could not identify but which 
were not its own common calls. All these birds except the Masked Lapwing are in 
the garden frequently. We often hear distant Masked Lapwings especially at 
night, and they are in a park about half a kilometre away. Its mimicry of their 
call was very soft. While I was looking at the Butcherbird, it did not mimic 
the most numerous birds in my garden, which are here all the time - Silvereyes, 
Brown Honeyeater, Superb Fairy-wren, though I had heard their calls before I 
realised there was a mimic performing, and it is possible I was hearing the 
Butcherbird and not the real birds. Neither did it mimic the Noisy Miner nor 
the Figbird both of which are close by all the time, though very rarely 
actually in the garden.

While I was watching the Butcherbird it remained in the same well-concealed 
position in the melaleuca - "lurking" and "skulking" were the words which came 
to mind.

The Grey Butcherbird itself is an uncommon visitor to my garden - I see one 
here a couple of times a month -  though I hear them almost every day from a 
garden across the street.

Margaret Cameron
2 Cintra Street
Eastern Heights
Queensland 4305
07 3282 9151

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