Butcherbirds, Woodswallows, Magpie & Currawongs

Family Artamidae

The name of this family derives from the Greek word for butcher and aptly describes the feeding habits of many members of this family, which have adapted well to different ecological niches in Australian woodland and open forest. Butcherbirds and currawongs are well known for preying on other birds, often lodging their prey in forks in tree branches, or impaling them on broken twigs.

Magpies are sedentary ground feeders that live in well-organised social groups. Their legs are adapted for walking about and their beaks well adapted for prising invertebrates from the soil.

Woodswallows are summer migrants. They are generally seen in groups soaring out from the tops of tall trees, hawking for insects, which they often eat on the wing.

Some members of this family, such as magpies and currawongs are among the most common garden birds in Canberra, while others, such as the Grey Butcherbird (193 records), White-browed Woodswallow (39) and Masked Woodswallow (114) are seen much less frequently.