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Birds Guide


From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, by MultiMedia

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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Artamidae
Genus: Cracticus
Vieillot, 1816
C. quoyi
C. torquatus
C. cassicus
C. louisiadensis
C. mentalis
C. nigrogularis

Butcherbirds are magpie-like birds in the genus Cracticus. They are native to Australasia.

Butcherbirds are mid-sized, growing up to 35cm in length. Their colour ranges from black-and-white to mostly black, with added grey plumage, depending on the species. They have a large, straight bills with a distinctive hook at the end which is used to skewer prey. They have beautiful songs of great subtlety.

Butcherbirds are insect eaters for the most part, but will also feed on small lizards and other meat. They get their name from their habit of hanging captured prey on a thorn, tree fork, or crevice. This "larder" is used to support the victim while it is being eaten, to store prey for later consumption, or to attract mates.

Butcherbirds are the ecological counterparts of the shrikes, which are unrelated but share the “larder” habit. The shrikes are also sometimes called “butcherbirds”.

Female butcherbirds lay one or two eggs in a clutch. The young will remain with their mother until almost fully grown. They tend to trail behind their mother and "squeak" incessantly while she catches food for them.

Woodlands are the butcherbird's natural habitat, but like many similar species they have adapted well to urbanisation and can be found in leafy suburbs throughout Australia. They are opportunistic and intelligent, showing little fear and readily taking food offerings to the point of becoming semi-tame, although this practice should not be encouraged. They will often reward these offerings with "thank you" songs. The birds will accept most kinds of scraps, but should only be given food suitable for insectivores such as mealworms and not, for example, bread.


  • Black Butcherbird, Cracticus quoyi
    Grey Butcherbird, Cracticus torquatus
    • Silver-Backed Butcherbird Cracticus argenteus (alternately a subspecies of C. torquatus)
  • Hooded Butcherbird, Cracticus cassicus
    Tagula Butcherbird, Cracticus louisiadensis
    Black-backed Butcherbird, Cracticus mentalis
    Pied Butcherbird, Cracticus nigrogularis

External links

Home | Up | Artamus | Cracticus | Gymnorhina | Currawong

Birds Guide, made by MultiMedia | Free content and software

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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