|Australian Bush Birds|
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|Pied Butcherbird - Cracticus nigrogularis|
The Pied Butcherbird - Cracticus nigrogularis - has a black neck, head, face, throat and breast forming a black hood; beak pale colour with dark tips and hook at the end. Eyes black. Underside and rump are white, back is entirely black with a broad white collar extending without break across the nape. Wings and tail are black and white. Male and female adults are similar. Reaches 32 to 35 centimetres in length.
Immature Pied Butcherbirds have a brown hood and pale reddish-buff breast. Underside is a pale buff white and the back is brown where the adult is black.
Hunts from good lookouts, often bare poles, wires or limbs. Dives down to take prey including small reptiles, rodents, ground birds and large insects off the ground. Once on the ground the short legs limit fast pursuit and the butcherbird does not remain on the ground for very long periods running or walking the way a Magpie does. Can take insects in flight. Flight is swift, low and undulating with a swoop up to alight with wings spread showing a pied pattern.
Lives in small family groups of up to half a dozen; often immature birds from the previous year (and still coloured mainly brown) help feed the following years nestlings.
Habitats include open woodland, scrub and rangeland, watercourse trees and grassland. Found over most of the Australian mainland except for South Australian and Victoria south of the Great Dividing Range. There is slight geographic variation with possibly two races overlapping in north-west Queensland
The voice of the Pied Butcherbird includes a fluted, far-carrying note best heard at dawn or early in the morning during breeding season or on calm, still nights. The bird settles on high vantage points to sing and one singer is often answered by one or more others in a duet or sequence of notes.
A common species with sedentary habits.