Letter | Published:

Birds and Butterflies



IN reference to the palatability of butterflies, it may be interesting to record that the Australian grey butcher bird, Cracticus torquatus, does not object to eating butterflies. A tame bird which I have had under observation, though pinioned, manages to catch skippers of the species Anasynta sphenosena, when these are flying round flowers within reach. I have also seen the bird catch the same species in the early morning before the butterflies have become active. The butterflies are seized with the bill, beaten once or twice against the ground or against some hard object, and then swallowed whole. The fact that on one occasion the bird caught and ate a skipper soon after it had been fed with its customary ration of raw meat indicates that it was not hunger that persuaded the bird to take the butterfly.

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