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  1. Grey-butcherbird-dhobern Juvenile Grey Butcherbird by D. Hobern
  2. Grey_butcherbird_by_marj_k Adult Grey Butcherbird by Marj K.

Grey Butcherbird

Cracticus torquatus


  • Colour: Black head and face, grey back and wings with large areas of white and white underparts. Large bill with small hook at the tip of the upper bill. Young Grey Butcherbirds resemble adults with brown plumage replacing black areas.
  • Size: 28-32cm


  • Call: Rich melodious piping
  • Diet: Small mammals, birds, eggs, reptiles, insects.  
  • Grey Butcherbirds sit on an open perch searching for prey which, once sighted, they pounce on. Most mobile prey is caught on the ground, though small birds and insects may be caught in flight.
  • Flight: Direct ‘ flat’ glide
  • Breeding: Bowl shaped nest made of sticks and twigs lined with grasses and other soft fibres. Lays 3-5 eggs

What to Observe

  • Courting/mating
  • Calling
  • Feeding
  • Chicks
  • Bird on eggs
  • Bird on nest
  • Nest building

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

We expect birds to start breeding and calling earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them.

When To Look

  • Year round
  • July - January (breeding)

Where To Look

  • Grey Butcherbirds range from mid-eastern Queensland, through southern Australia, including Tasmania, to northern Western Australia. There is an isolated population in the Kimberley and the northernmost parts of the Northern Territory.
  • Open forest, woodland, mallee. In both urban and farmland areas.



Simpson K, Day N & Trusler P 2004. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Viking, Camberwell, Victoria.


  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    The Black Butcherbird (Cracticus quoyi) from the rainforests and mangroves of the north of Australia is all black, with a blue-grey bill. The widespread Pied Butcherbird, C. nigrogularis, is larger and boldly marked in black and white. Can also be mistaken for small kingfishers. 

  1. Did You Know?

    Grey Butcherbirds are aggressive predators of other smaller birds, lizards and insects. Leftovers may be stored in a tree fork or impaled on a branch. 

    Young birds remain in breeding territory and help parents raise young of the following season.