Mimicry by Grey Butcherbird and others (was GreyButcherbird mimicry)

To: "'Margaret Cameron'" <>, "'michael norris'" <>, <>
Subject: Mimicry by Grey Butcherbird and others (was GreyButcherbird mimicry)
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Fri, 2 Apr 2010 15:53:10 +1100
The best ever discussion of why birds mimic or at least a model on which
to analyse it,  was given in a 1979 paper: by David S Dobkin (currently
or recently editor of The Condor). 'Functional and evolutionary
relationships of vocal copying phenomena in birds', Zeitschrift fur
Tierpsychologie 50, 348-363. I have corresponded with him recently about

I was influential in my analysis: about Batesian Acoustic Mimicry by the
Regent Honeyeater.

In most cases the mimicry of birds has no relevance to the model being
imitated. The Regent Honeyeater is an exception and the African
Robin-chat may be another.

Philip Veerman
24 Castley Circuit
Kambah  ACT  2902
02 - 62314041

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Margaret Cameron
Sent: Friday, 2 April 2010 10:03 AM
To: michael norris; 
Subject: Mimicry by Grey Butcherbird and others (was
GreyButcherbird mimicry)

Thanks for remembering my previous posting Michael, I enjoyed your
I've changed the subject line in case I cause the thread to travel away
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

It is a puzzle to me - and, I find, to real ornithologists - why they do
When I was a beginner birdwatcher in Sydney I remember Alec Chisholm 
collecting mimicry records; he maintained that the Chestnut-rumped
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
or they will lead the predator to their nest. We know this is not true
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
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
vocalizations. Sorry I've lost your name but maybe by now you have a

Margaret Cameron
2 Cintra Street
Eastern Heights, Qld
Australia 4305
07 3282 9151


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