Now there’s very little long grass, except around the edges, but that’s not a good thing for everyone. My new friends the grey butcherbirds (Cracticus torquatus) don’t have as many skinks to seek out and eat for dinner (skinks hide out in long grass, among other places). There’s been a grey butcherbird visiting my garden since last year. They have a beautiful call, so listen out for the prettiest sounding bird and it’s probably a grey butcherbird. Recently I’ve seen him eating skinks and once I saw him bashing it on a tree branch to stop the wriggling before swallowing it down. I was very happy when I saw he had a friend. This might mean they’re planning a spring affair, especially since I saw one butcherbird in the neighbour’s palm pulling strands of fibre from it, perhaps for a nest. Ms Butcher is a bit shyer than her friend and when I’m in the vicinity will only come as close to my garden as the electricity lines. The first time I saw them together they were both on the electricity wires, one eating a skink and the other looking on, wondering why there was no sharing. Mr Butcher is pretty fearless, even with a garden full of cats (they only hunt rodents due to numerous bells on collars). One day recently I was walking towards Sheeba the dog who was about two metres from the birdbath. When I got to her I noticed the butcherbird on the birdbath, so I sat down next to Sheeba hoping the bird wouldn’t fly off. He sat there for a moment, had some sips of water, sat some more, then leisurely took flight. It was amazing to see him so close.
On Saturday while catching some sun in the garden a red wattlebird (Anthochaera carnunculata) landed in the not so tall tuart. He hopped from branch to branch, then was dive-bombed by the butcherbird. I thought at first the attacker was another wattlebird cause that’s the kind of thing they do, but the butcherbird flew to the electricity line in triumph and I could see his colouring. Obviously my garden is not for sharing. The day after, on Sunday I was sitting with Sheeba in the shade of the tuart, it gives some nice shade despite being not so tall, and a red wattlebird landed on the birdbath a metre away. He could see us nearby, but he was happy to take a few sips of water and then fly off. It was pretty hot (26°C), so we weren’t going to scare him away from his drink.