The Butcherbird

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Charts showing breakdown of occurrence records 0 records.

The Butcherbird Stories

Biodiversity Heritage Library Trove. Name references found in the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Name references found in Trove - NLA. Source: Rights holder: Provided by:.

Susan Sheridan reviews 'The Butcherbird Stories' by A.S. Patrić

Main Image. Main Audio. Cracticus torquatus Latham, Published in: Clayton, M. Grey Butcherbird. Cracticus torquatus inferred accepted.

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Queensland: Classification codes under the Nature Conservation Act Unranked taxon assigned rank species by inference Scientific name reallocated to Cracticus torquatus Latham, by taxonomy builder. Cracticus torquatus Latham, accepted.

The Butcherbird Stories

So along with my companion Daniel, whom I met on our very first day at grammar school, almost half a century ago, I simply enjoyed the fine weather, and its associated marbled white and meadow brown butterflies. As we reached the River Parrett, a flock of linnets flew up into a bramble bush.

I like linnets, especially when the males show off their splendid pink breeding plumage, so I lifted my binoculars to take a closer look. And then I saw it. A larger bird, with a russet back and grey head, facing away from me on the same bush. Amazingly, it was — a splendid male, perched sentinel-like in the July sunshine.


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Moments later, it flew down and disappeared. Fortunately we relocated it further along the path, and watched in delight as it sallied forth to grab large, juicy flies from a convenient cowpat, before returning to perch amongst the pink and white bramble blooms. If you awarded a prize for the most striking British songbird, a male red-backed shrike would surely be a clear contender.

Amazing singing performance by four pied butcherbirds, Western Australia

With its dove-grey head, black mask, white throat, russet back and delicate, peachy breast, it is undoubtedly beautiful. But like all shrikes, it is also astonishingly charismatic and graceful. They may be small — somewhere between the size of a sparrow and a starling — but with that hooked beak they look rather like a miniature raptor.

But during the twentieth century the species began to decline, until by the time I began birding in the s it had virtually disappeared. I remember seeing what was then the last British breeding pair, in a car park in the Suffolk Brecks, almost thirty years ago.

Since then, in a Lazarus-like resurrection, a few pairs have bred on Dartmoor and in the north of Scotland, though their status remains precarious.