Saturday, February 2, 2013

MEGAFAUNA - The 45cm Pied Butcherbird sings like an Eastern Koel

A very interesting development has occurred and I am glad I was able to observe it. For months now I thought a Pacific (Eastern) Koel was hanging around, calling out even calling during the night. But today I saw what looked like a large white fronted bird on the fence across the road making the exact same sound as an Eastern Koel. I was not able to focus my camera quick enough to even get a photo. It certainly was not an Eastern Koel and only 2 species fit into the size category of what it could be: a Laughing Kookaburra and the 45cm Pied Butcherbird. It was not a Laughing Kookaburra. Kookaburras don't mimic sounds they hear. The bird in question was actually the large 45cm Pied Butcherbird.

However going back to when I first saw this 45cm Pied Butcherbird I remember it making all kinds of songs. I recorded what I thought was (until today) an Eastern Koel (The Koels that are in NSW anyway) but thought it strange as it was doing a lot of mimicry sounds. I've several videos like this taken in the last 3-4 or so weeks but one in particular I will add here (or to another post) as soon as I can find it on my pc.

This particular Pied Butcherbird is really hard to photograph. It seems to know when someone is taking it's photo and hides deeper into the tree canopy and goes quiet. It hides in the tree tops during the hottest parts of the day, and is impossible to see as it uses the outer leaves/branches as camouflage. It does call out and makes lots of sounds, which sounds like an Eastern Koel. When it is out feeding it doesn't keep still long enough to take a decent photo of it. it flies around town a lot but often I can't track it by it's calls. It seems to land on something and then call out. For most of the time it is quiet, especially during the first half of the day, but then it gets a bit vocal from about lunch time onwards.

The Pied Butcherbird sounds I've been hearing lately, especially today, tells me there are two of these birds in the area. I have no idea on the size of the other Pied Butcherbird but it's voice is the same but a little bit quieter. I heard them both calling out to each other from two different trees, at least 50 metres apart.

If these birds are coming together to breed then I need to keep a close eye on where they are coming and going to. But as the one I have seen, which I think might be a male, has attracted the female to his area it is possible I might get to see some nesting behaviour in the near future. I cannot be certain though that the two birds will even hang around the area to nest. They might move further away from the outskirts of town where it is peaceful and much quieter.

For two days in a row now the male? has been sighted across the road on the fence around 5pm. Tomorrow I will be prepared and hopefully get a video of the bird. Hopefully it will sing for me - wishful thinking on my part!

If nothing else it will be interesting to see what their chicks will be like and how big the female is. Or to at least get some decent footage of this male? bird.

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