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.