Pied butcherbird

The pied butcherbird is a songbird native to Australia. Described by John Gould in 1837, it is a black and white bird. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed it as being of least concern on account of its large range and apparently stable population.

About Pied butcherbird in brief

Summary Pied butcherbirdThe pied butcherbird is a songbird native to Australia. Described by John Gould in 1837, it is a black and white bird 28 to 32 cm long with a long hooked bill. Its head and throat are black, making a distinctive hood; the mantle and much of the tail and wings are also black. The juvenile and immature birds are predominantly brown and white. As they mature their brown feathers are replaced by black feathers. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed it as being of least concern on account of its large range and apparently stable population. It nests in trees, constructing a cup-shaped structure out of sticks and laying two to five eggs. It is carnivorous, eating insects and small vertebrates including birds. It engages in cooperative breeding, with a mated pair sometimes assisted by several helper birds. The troop is territorial, defending the nesting site from intruders. Two subspecies are recognised today. The nominate subspecies nigrogularis is found across eastern Australia, and subspecies picatus is found in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and northern South Australia. The border between the two subspecies lies in the Gulf Country and is known as the Carpentarian Barrier. Within the genus Cracticus, the butcherbirds are most closely related to the Tagula butcherbird and hooded butcherbird.

The three form a monophyletic group within the genus, having diverged from ancestors of the grey butcherbird around five million years ago. The butcherbirds, Australian magpie and currawongs were placed in the family Cracticidae in 1914 by John Albert Leach after he had studied their musculature. They are an alternative common name for the black-throated crow shrike, also called Break o’day boy and the Inwaaliya Gambaru dialect of the Gamra language of the Pilbara region of western Australia. Names recorded in central Australia include alpura buurrbu, gurra buurra and urbaka alpirtaka. The Ngarluma people of western Pilbara knew it as gurru guru and gururra gurura. It has been designated the official name by the International Ornithological Committee by the World Ornithologists’ Union (WOU) for the subspecies pied crow-shrike, a colloquial name from the Musgrave Ranges language of southeastern Australia, buubu buu buurru and Inwaala buuru alpuburra. The WOU has also used the name Ka-a-ra as a name by indigenous people of the central Ranges of central Australia, while Gould recorded it as Ka-ra-ra. It can be found in Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia as well as in South Africa and New South Wales. The bird has been known to accept food from humans.