Thursday, January 31, 2013

MEGAFAUNA - The 45cm Grey Butcherbird is actually a Pied Butcherbird

MEGAFAUNA MEANS REALLY LARGE. However, it seems that some species of birds are getting larger and during the month of December 2012 I have seen 3 individuals of 3 separate species that are larger than normal. This post is about my first sighting - of a large Grey Butcherbird juvenile.

I was out the front taking photographs two days ago when I spotted a bird on the fence across the road. So I took a photo of it. It's of the oversized Grey Butcherbird again. That's what I first thought but looking at the bird now I've re-identified it as a Pied Butcherbird. The photos below shows how the bird has developed it's grey colouring over the passed month. It's colouring is not the same as in the video I took of it when I first spotted this bird back in December 2012. It's feathers are a really dark grey now and it's head is turning very dark grey too.

Click the photos to enlarge them.

Screenshot from video taken 18 December 2012.
The bird on a standard Hills Rotary clothesline.
This is what the bird looked like when I first
saw it.
The large Pied Butcherbird in the misty rain.














It is a sight to see this bird because it is so huge. With ex-tropical cyclone Oswald been and gone over Tenterfield, this and many other birds began to come back to the area 2 days ago (29 Jan. 2013) in the late afternoon. I only saw this Butcherbird for a few moments and didn't have the chance to take a second photo of it. I am happy to see this bird again as I know it has been hanging around the area since it first got here in December 2012.

Grey nor Pied Butcherbirds rarely beg for food from humans. They used to but not any more. Obviously their dependence on humans for food is obsolete and as a result nature has resumed it's course. With nature taking over and the birds fending for themselves and trying to find food the result is a much larger Pied Butcherbird species.

Whilst adding the first picture to this post, that the bird was on the clothesline in the photo, I decided to measure the length between each line whilst writing up this post. Then I came up with a more accurate length of this bird in real time. The Pied Butcherbird is approximately 1 and 3/4 lengths of one section of the clothesline when it's head is upright. One length is the distance between two horizontal green cords of the clothesline - that you hang clothes from. I'm actually guessing the bird is just under 1 and 3/4 lengths of the clothesline actually. The length between 3 cords (2 gaps in the clothesline where you'd hang clothes) is approximately 20.5 inches (give or takes 1-2 cms - the clothesline was wound up and I had trouble reaching it). Half that is 10.25 inches, half that is 5.125 inches, and half that again is 2.5625 inches.

The bird is approximately 3/4 of the total length of 20.5 inches. Therefore the Math is:

  10.25 inches
    5.125 inches
 + 2.5625 inches
------------------
  17.6875 inches (or about 45 cms) in length.

When the bird has it's head stretched out horizontally it is approximately 52 cms in length. N.B. The bird is not fully mature and am uncertain if it is still growing.

Pied Butcherbird details found on BirdsinBackyards website:

Minimum Size: 33cm
Maximum Size: 38cm
Average size: 35cm
A better screenshot from video taken 18 Dec. 2012.
The Grey Fantail in question that tried attacking it.
Now, if you think I am pulling the wool over your eyes and exaggerating on this bird's size, then come to Tenterfield and see it for yourself. It might take you a long while to find this particular bird as it moves around a lot but eventually you will see it. I am not exaggerating about this bird's size. I may be out by a few centimetres but that's about it. Pied Butcherbirds are not naturally about 45-52 cms in length, here or anywhere else in Australia but this particular bird is!

This is the beginning of climate change adaptations of birds in New South Wales. How large Pied Butcherbirds will become in the future is anyone's guess.

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