Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Garden Visitors - the Pied Butcherbird


Every morning at dawn, in that time frame when all birds sing the most, in spring, I could hear this strange flute-like call from the Pied Butcherbird -Cracticus nigrogularis- the tune was perfect in pitch and time and slightly varied at times. It sounded very 'human' in the sense that I thought it was somebody whistling. I recorded it and transcribed it:


This bird may be considered the singer of the bush, with its huge repertoire of calls and songs of its own but also borrowed from other sources. For some reason they are aware that when a human is gardening there might be insects and worms around, so they come and perch very closely to the working gardener and carefully observe the surroundings until an insect runs away from the digging and pruning. The hunter then quickly flies down and grabs its meal.


Their calls and songs are made up of a wide range of mellow, sweet, mysterious and sad whistles and it is one of the most characteristic sound of the bush and suburban gardens. The pair living around our garden regularly comes for drinking and bathing in the bird bath just in front of my studio window. To watch and listen to them is a big pleasure. Once, just during one of its visit, it flew straight from the bird bath to the wall of the building behind it, flying away in less than a second with a gecko in its beak. Very skilled hunter, no wonder we now have a big curious young discovering the world after its parents.

11 comments:

  1. Beautiful artwork, Matteo! We have a family of butcher birds and magpies that visit us daily. I love to watch them and listen to their unique calls.

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  2. A fascinating read, Matteo, and as always, your bird sketches are superb!

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  3. What a beautiful post Matteo - such a familiar bird and you rendered it so nicely. Love the music notes, how clever. I have to tell you it is much easier to read the blog with this font - was having a little trouble before ... I love your blog Matteo and look forward to updates ... Happy New Year to you and may you have much inspiration xx

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  4. Bonitos dibujos Matteo.Un saludo

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  5. Your work always delights, Matteo. Such character and beauty in your painting.

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  6. Gorgeous drawings, Matteo and you paint the scene in your garden so beautifully with your words. The delight of visiting my in-laws in Gympie is to watch FIL handfeeding the butcher birds and kookaburras. I envy you the daily contact.

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  7. These sketches are beautiful.

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  8. Thank you so much everybody for the nice comments!

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  9. I like this post a lot--the painted birds are wonderful--the last pic is a favorite. And I appreciate the song transcription

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  10. gorgeous paintings, what a lovely blog! we hear a butcherbird often in the mornings since moving to Brisbane, really musical.

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  11. Another wonderful post Matteo. I appreciate so much how you can do such incredibly detailed work for one painting and then also be able to work so seemingly loosely on another. These "loose" butcher bird painings are such a pleasure to look at and the addition of the musical notation is icing on the cake.

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