The Grey Butcherbird Family

We had never seen grey butcherbirds at our place until November 2016, when I saw a whole family of them turn up in my backyard. Where they came from, or even why they appeared, remains a mystery.

Two juvenile grey butcherbirds can be seen at the front of the photo and an adult can just be seen behind them.

The adult grey butcherbird has a beautiful grey, white and black colouring.

The juveniles are coloured brown and beige.

The family of greys were often seen perched on the roof of the garage. They almost always stay out the back, except on the odd occasion when they venture out the front, only to be swooped on by the pied butcherbirds. This makes for some interesting observations when a pied swoops on a grey and then lands on the veranda railing looking quite pleased with himself, and he is then swooped on by a grey butcherbird as payback. The look on their face is priceless!

It’s always interesting observing birds, and I captured this strange moment on my camera between an adult and juvenile.

Have you figured out yet why this bird is called a butcherbird? These birds hang their prey (lizards, mice, beetles, insects and even chicks) on a twig or in a fork of a branch and then use their sharp hooked beak to hack away at it.

Despite its intimidating looks, the grey butcherbird has a lovely musical song. Below is a video of one of the juveniles practising his singing.

I’ve managed to also capture some of the grey butcherbird calls in the audio recordings below. They have quite a repertoire!




Here is one of the juveniles looking right at me!

I haven’t seen either of the juvenile birds since the start of February. I have only seen the two adults. I miss my little juveniles turning up on the veranda to practise their singing. I wonder if something happened to them because it is my understanding that they’re supposed to hang around with their parents for about a year and help out with the raising of the next lot of babies (like the kookaburras and pied butcherbirds), before they fully colour up and go out on their own. Does anyone know if the juveniles always stay with their parents to help raise future chicks before going it alone, or is it possible the young ones have already moved on as they would have been about 4 months old the last time I saw them?







9 thoughts on “The Grey Butcherbird Family

    1. Thanks Donna. I once saw one of these birds eat a lizard they caught. It wasn’t pleasant but it was also fascinating to watch. But I guess that’s Nature at work.

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  1. Lovely captures Sue, especially the parent and juvenile. I love the many different songs they sing, and my favourite morning bird, always gives me great sense of joy and delight when I hear him as the first bird of the morning 😊

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