The Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus) appears to be a year-round resident of the Hunter Valley. I delight in hearing its joyous cackle, sometimes competing with the glorious tune of its cousin, the Pied Butcherbird.
Male supplies one of 4 youngsters with food -22 Oct 08
The female incubates 3 to 5 eggs for 24 to 26 days. She is fed on the nest by the male, but both parents feed the young. Young fledge in about 4 weeks. (ref: Readers Digest)
The 4 chicks - 28 Oct 2008
The habits of the birds were very interesting to observe at length. Both parents collected and carried away faeces sacs. Following is a series of three images illustrating the collection process:
The young offers his rear-end . . . . .
. . . . a bulge appears as the chick pushes out waste . . . .
. . . . . and the parent collects the sac for removal.
We watched both birds return to the nest with frogs, moths, worms, grasshoppers, other invertebrates, and a dismembered bird or animal. At one stage, the adult male successfully fed a piece of meat and bone, as big as the chick, to one of his brood.
A frog for one of the four gaping mouths (28 Oct 2008)
1st Nov the 4 chicks are exercising their wings
4 Nov, only 2 chicks remain - the missing two chicks may have fledged, fallen, or been predated
According to some of my reference books, Butcherbirds are likely to nest in the same territory year after year, so we will check out this area again next year in the hope of making further observations.