Saturday Evening Post: #37 Rich Songster

The 13th Century Persian Poet Rumi, wrote

“I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.”

He, no doubt, had never heard of the great songster of the Australian bush, but again, no doubt, he would have been impressed by the range, the volume, and the variety of the songs of the Grey Shrikethrush.

In winter when there is no one to impress, the one or two note call is quite penetrating, but hardly melodic, but come the season for mating, the call changes to the most beautiful and sustained tunes.
I once found one nesting in a old concrete tank, the shape of the broken top of the tank made the whole thing a superb sounding box, and as I peeked in side the bird was in full cry, not worried about who hears, not what they think.

It is estimated that a pair will maintain a 10 hectare sized territory, and perhaps that is why the loud song must ring from one end to the other.

Their diet is quite catholic, and they have no qualms about helping themselves to robins, thornbills and other small birds egg and young.  I once saw an adult with a match-sized stick, poking it into a hole in  a branch to lever out a small grub.

John Latham, one of Australia’s early and great naturalists gave it the binomial Colluricincla harmonica. Colluricincla refers to Thrush, while harmonica, from the  Greek harmonikos, – skilled in music, and Latin, harmonicus- harmonious.

This was one of a pair that were working their way along a river’s edge.  The simple calls were enough to keep them in contact with one another, but also gave me the opportunity to locate them amongst the scrub.