Two adults and a juvenile Grey Butcherbird were flitting urgently through foliage along Riverview Road late yesterday. One of the adults had snatched a skink from the ground and the juvenile was in hot pursuit, uttering a series of urgent piping notes not dissimilar to a young Noisy Miner's 'I'm bloody starving - give me something right now' racket.
Anyhow, the parent with the skink flew from tree to tree to escape the juvenile, bashing the skink to death on branches various as it went. Two minutes after it had snared its prey, the adult handed it to the youngster, which devoured the creature effortlessly.
I'm wary of anthropomorphism, but it seemed as if the adult Butcherbird deeply cared about the welfare of its offspring, handing the skink over only when it believed the reptile was dead. Perhaps there was a concern the juvenile would either not cope with a living skink or perhaps choke on its food. Regardless, life goes on in a species because of that attention, that compassion.
I've never seen such fastidious food preparation before in the bird world - Matt Moran and Heston Blumenthal would've been proud.
LJ, December 2010.