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.

 

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7 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post: #37 Rich Songster

    1. Hello Eleanor, we don’t see anywhere near as many on this side of town, as when we were at Woodlands. I’ve always been fascinated both by their call and their total confidence around us mere humans.

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  1. I agree David they are beautiful songsters, and I find them very curious, not having any problem coming up to you to check you out. I was surprised to read that they eat other birds, I would not have known to include them in that category. As I write this on the ebb of the shortest day while still dark my little Grey Butcherbird is singing his heart out only several feet from my window, as he does for me every morning after drinking the dogs water. By the way, the dog has been gone over a year, but the water bowl still gets filled, as this little guy, gives me so much delight hearing him sing for me each morning. Have a enjoyable weekend!

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    1. Hi AB, they are among a number of predatorory birds that are a problem to the Red-caps. She makes several nests and then frequents them all, hoping I guess to confuse the onlookers.

      Good to have a backyard companion, and one that has seen your benevolant ways. We have a pair of Spotted Dove that have taken to sitting in our birdbath. Their antics amuse me.
      Would prefer a Grey Butcherbird or Grey Shrikethrush, but none so far.
      Have a great week
      Keep takin’ pictures, we do.

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