Butcher bird calling in Sydney, Australia.
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
C. tibicen

Butcherbirds are magpie-like birds in the genus Cracticus. They are native to Australasia. Their closest relatives are the three species of currawong. Together they form the subfamily Cracticinae in the family Artamidae which also contains the woodswallows.

Butcherbirds are mid-sized, most growing up to 35 cm in length, although the Australian Magpie is larger, at a maximum 43 cm. Their colour ranges from black-and-white to mostly black with added grey plumage, depending on the species. They have a large, straight bill with a distinctive hook at the end which is used to skewer prey. They have high-pitched complex songs.

Butcherbirds are insect eaters for the most part, but will also feed on small lizards and other vertebrates. They get their name from their habit of impaling 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; 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, showing little fear and readily taking food offerings to the point of becoming semi-tame.


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • butcherbird — [booch′ərbʉrd΄] n. any of various shrikes which, after killing prey, impale it on thorns: also butcher bird …   English World dictionary

  • Butcherbird — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Butcherbird est le surnom donné au Focke Wulf Fw 190, un avion de combat allemand de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Ce surnom a été donné à l appareil en… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • butcherbird — /ˈbʊtʃəbɜd / (say boochuhberd) noun 1. any of several birds of the genus Cracticus, of Australia and New Guinea, as the grey butcherbird, Cracticus torquatus, or the pied butcherbird, C. nigrogularis, noted for its melodious call with birds often …   Australian English dictionary

  • butcherbird — butcher bird utcher bird, butcher bird utcher bird, butcherbird utcherbird . 1. (Zo[ o]l.) any species of shrike of the genus {Lanius}, so called because they impale their prey on thorns. [1913 Webster + WordNet 1.5] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) large… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • butcherbird — /booch euhr berrd /, n. 1. any of various shrikes of the genus Lanius, which impale their prey upon thorns. 2. any of several large, carnivorous birds of the genus Cracticus, of Australia and New Guinea, having shrikelike habits. [1660 70;… …   Universalium

  • butcherbird — fleitininkai statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Cracticus angl. butcherbird rus. флейтовая птица, f pranc. cassican, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas – fleitininkiniai siauresnis terminas – australinis fleitininkas siauresnis… …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • butcherbird — noun a) (South Africa) The Fiscal shrike b) any of the magpie like birds in the genus Cracticus Syn: Jacky Hanger, Jacky Hangman …   Wiktionary

  • butcherbird — n. any of the various meat eating birds (such as the shrikes) that pin down their prey on thorns …   English contemporary dictionary

  • butcherbird — butch•er•bird [[t]ˈbʊtʃ ərˌbɜrd[/t]] n. 1) orn any of several Eurasian or North American shrikes of the genus Lanius[/ex] 2) orn any of various large, heavy billed, highly vocal songbirds of the genus Cracticus, of Australia and New Guinea •… …   From formal English to slang

  • butcherbird — noun 1. shrikes that impale their prey on thorns • Hypernyms: ↑shrike • Hyponyms: ↑European shrike, ↑Lanius excubitor, ↑northern shrike, ↑Lanius borealis, ↑white rumped shrike, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

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