Beethoven and butcher-birds

I have always envied people who have butcher-bIrds in their environs. I never have, despite them being distributed over most of Australia.

My magpies are handsome and dapper enough to cover the visual advantages of black and white birds, and I do love their songs…

But they cannot compete with the songs of butcher-birds.

And this week I saw one here, just in front of the desk window. Or I thought I did. It took off so fast I fancied I may have been mistaken; just wishful thinking.

Like when I’d fancied I heard a butcher-bird call here a few times; not being so familiar with them I wasn’t sure.

My bird book describes its song as ‘Beautiful flute-like calls, one of the most common recalling Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony’.


But then I spotted it over on the little shed roof, a tiny spot of black and white. The camera zoom confirmed it was a Pied Butcher-bird.

If you’re wondering why they are called that, my book says it’s because they wedge their prey in a suitable branch fork to make feeding easier.


And if you’re also wondering why my back yard looks like a quarry, I am aiming to turn my boggy flat into a pond. Now I wait for rain to see if it holds water.

Maybe then I’ll have water birds visit…