Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Grey Shrike-thrush Colluricincla harmonica

For a few months now I have been trying to identify this particular species. The grey Shrike-thrush is a mostly grey coloured bird with brown wings and about 24cms on average in size. Despite it's ordinary appearance it has a beautiful call that is heard over the top of smaller birds in the area. It is easily identified by it's call.

This species spends a lot of time eating insects. The bird in this video below is , I believe, a juvenile that has reached breeding age. I do not know much about this particular species as yet. However, there is one resident bird in the immediate area which is trying to get the attention of a mate. This individual (see video below), seems to be building a nest even though this seems to be a part time job at the moment for this bird. It frequently visits the chosen nesting site several times a day, and adds new nesting material to it. This nesting behaviour only began on or just before the 8th of October. It's main concern at the moment is luring it's mate to the nest which seems to be frightened of humans and dogs. It's mate is shy and timid and easily spooked. It's mate is willing, or appears to be willing to mate with it, but appears to not be keen on the chosen nesting site 6 feet from my neighbour Carol's back door. The main reason why it's mate flies away is because it is spooked by the presence of humans looking at it, my neighbour's dog suddenly barking, and the fact my neighbour's dog keeps chasing the birds away despite being told not to do that.

This species eats insects from climbing roses and rose bushes in general. It also eats insects from around the house and underneath verandahs which includes on windows if they can get to the insects. It also has been observed eating something on a Wisteria flower vine. I'm not sure if Wisteria flowers produce nectar or not or whether it is something else, but the Grey Shrike-thrush was attracted to the flowers when it was in flower. Intertwined with the Wisteria is a climbing rose, in my neighbour, Carol's garden.

Nesting material, at the preliminary stage, appears to be mostly plant material, like leaves of gum trees. It will add new nesting material to the nest 2-3 times a day before mating has occurred.

The song of the Grey Shrike-thrush, in the immediate area, first started out fairly quiet but as September approached it's voice got louder and louder. It's mate's voice is a lot quieter, probably half as loud (in Hertz). With the unique echoing effect of Tenterfield's landscape this bird can easily be heard within at least a 4km area of it's location in every direction. It makes a variety of different calls with an easy to identify sound that sounds like a whip crack.or a "whit-will" sound.

I have read that some species of birds (which includes the Grey Shrike-thrush) have increased their songs' loudness in cities so they can be heard over the top of traffic, etc. This individual's song is quite loud, as loud as a Willy Wagtail in the middle of the night but not quite as loud as a Torresian Crows call. I would say, though, it is almost as loud as a Red Wattlebird's call. This makes me wonder if this particular individual bird originally came from a city, perhaps Brisbane?

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