Mimicry by Grey Butcherbird and others (was Grey Butcherbird mimicry)

To: Margaret Cameron <>, Michael Norris <>, Birding Aus <>
Subject: Mimicry by Grey Butcherbird and others (was Grey Butcherbird mimicry)
From: Denise Goodfellow <>
Date: Fri, 02 Apr 2010 10:08:14 +0930
Hi Margaret
Would you be thinking of Hollis Taylor?  Hollis was doing her PhD on Pied
Butcherbird song.
Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow
PO Box 3460 NT 0832, AUSTRALIA
Ph. 61 08 89 328306
Mobile: 04 386 50 835

Birdwatching and Indigenous tourism consultant
PhD Candidate

Research survey:
For American birders -
For UK and other birders
For copies of Birds of Australia¹s Top End or Quiet Snake Dreaming, visit

on 2/4/10 8:33 AM, Margaret Cameron at  wrote:

> Thanks for remembering my previous posting Michael, I enjoyed your report!
> I've changed the subject line in case I cause the thread to travel away from
> the Grey Butcherbird.
> Although I still have Grey Butcherbirds in my garden regularly (usually
> lurking in the same tree) I've never heard mimicry again - but then I'm
> often not here. Craig Morley reminded me that he published a similar
> observation of  a Grey Butcherbird in Eastern Park, Geelong, in the Geelong
> Naturalist.
> It is a puzzle to me - and, I find, to real ornithologists - why they do it.
> When I was a beginner birdwatcher in Sydney I remember Alec Chisholm
> collecting mimicry records; he maintained that the Chestnut-rumped Heathwren
> was the best.  There is a good discussion in J.D.Macdonald's Birds for
> beginners: how birds live and behave (Reed,1980) including a paragraph
> entitled "Mimicry perhaps functionless".  He does not mention a theory I
> have read somewhere else that predators mimic little birds so the little
> birds will come up to see what is happening and the predator can grab them,
> or they will lead the predator to their nest. We know this is not true of
> our Grey Butcherbirds as ours mimic big birds.
> Near Helidon (Southeast Queensland) yesterday 1 April we heard an
> Olive-backed Oriole mimicking small birds - Weebill, Speckled Warbler,
> Silvereye, White-browed Scrubwren, fairy-wren. It did not mimic any of the
> numerous big birds also in the area. Orioles do take nestlings (HANZAB);
> Red-backed Fairy-Wrens close by appeared to be taking food to a nest and
> were certainly very nervous but we thought this was because of us.
> After my March 2007 posting someone wrote who was studying Pied Butcherbird
> vocalizations. Sorry I've lost your name but maybe by now you have a theory?
> Margaret Cameron
> 2 Cintra Street
> Eastern Heights, Qld
> Australia 4305
> 07 3282 9151

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