Grey butcherbird

Grey butcherbird
Cracticus torquatus

Photo by Phil Guerney (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
grey butcherbird (en); verdugo-cinzento (pt); cassican à collier (fr); verdugo acollarado (es); graurücken-metzgervogel (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Cracticidae

This species is endemic to Australia, being found from mid-eastern Queensland, through southern Australia, including Tasmania, to northern Western Australia. There is an isolated population in the Kimberley and the northernmost parts of the Northern Territory.

Grey butcherbirds are 24-30 cm long and weigh 80-110 g.

These birds are found in a range of wooded habitats, including dry and moist tropical forests, swamp forests, temperate forests and dry savannas. They are also found in dry scrublands, agricultural areas and within urban areas.

They are aggressive predator, taking a wide range of small animals including birds, lizards, insects and mice. They also eat fruits and seeds. Uneaten food is often stored in a fork or branch or impaled.

Grey butcherbirds are monogamous, territorial nesters. They breed in July-January and the nest is a bowl made of sticks and twigs, lined with grasses and other soft fibres. It is placed in a fork in a tree, up to 10 m above the ground. The female lays 3-5 brownish-green eggs with reddish-brown spots, which she incubates alone for 22-25 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 28 days after hatching, but remain in the parental territory for up to 1 year, sometimes helping raise the next clutch.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as common. The trend direction for this population is difficult to determine owing to the positive and negative processes affecting the species. Some populations are known to be declining due to forest clearance.

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