Pied Butcherbird
Song & Calls

Pied Butcherbird (Cracticus nigrogularis)

Pied Butcherbird (Cracticus nigrogularis)

The Pied Butcherbird (Cracticus nigrogularis) is a common species of butcherbird endemic to mainland Australia. This species can be found in a wide range of open habitats across the country including woodlands, arid shrubland, farmland and even urban parks and gardens.

The song of the Pied Butcherbird has to be one of the most musical of all bird sounds. Elaborate, fluty, melodic phrases are sung by single birds, duetting pairs and even by groups in chorus. They also make a range of other calls. In the breeding season, Pied Butcherbirds often start singing well before dawn and can sometimes be heard on moonlit nights.

In addition to their typical fluty song, Pied Butcherbirds have a soft ‘whisper song’ or ‘subsong’ which often includes mimicry of the calls of other bird species. Based on my own observations, the subsong of butcherbirds is more likely to be heard in the middle of the day or early afternoon, especially in windy or rainy conditions.

Listen to Pied Butcherbird Sounds

The video below is a compilation of three different audio recordings, each recorded at a different location and featuring variations of the typical song of the Pied Butcherbird.

Pied Butcherbird – Breeding song

 XC286927 This audio sample features an example of the faster, somewhat repetitive phrases of the breeding song. It has been suggested these phrases are likely made by male birds during the breeding season. This song type is most frequently heard at dawn (although sometimes at night) and is more repetitive than the typical floating, slow progression of complex phrases in the typical song. This sample was recorded near Nyngan, NSW, Australia.


Pied Butcherbird – Alarm calls

XC334418 This sample includes alarm calls and whistles in response to the presence of a Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides). It is thought Pied Butcherbirds give a variety of alarm calls depending on the type of threat present. Recorded in Gluepot Reserve, South Australia.