Brutal Benefits – Butcher Birds

I was wandering the garden a couple of weeks ago and looking across the yard to a young Melaleuca, noticed shiny black blotches on one of the lower branches. As I approached it became apparent they were clusters of large shiny black flies gathering on patches of blood and a half-mouse carcass suspended at around eye height. Grotesque! But how on earth did a mouse get up there in that condition?! Butcher Birdery That is some death-crawl… but no… some other force is at work in the garden. A good force too considering that where there is food, there are rodents. Mice and rats can be clever, breed rapidly, and are a continual pest for organic food growers. One of many organic control methods is to encourage predatory native animals to the garden. Birds seem to be the most available native predators of rats and mice and by pruning the lower branches on trees to allow perching with a clear view of possible ‘rodent runs’ you create the perfect predator perch. Owls and hawks will do the job, hawks more from the sky, but I think the culprit in my instance is one or more Butcher Birds.

Additionally, having perches available for all sorts of birds can provide a free nutrient source from droppings

Butcher Birds are a clever native carnivore and earned their name through a penchant to skewer their prey on thorns or pointy sticks on tree branches for easy eating or temporary storage. They are a smaller bird thus cannot usually swallow their prey whole so it makes sense that they would find a safe platform for their butchery. They are also smart enough to learn of holes or regular rodent spots and stake them out for decent periods of time. Brutal but a self-perpetuating and low input method for garden rodent control. Thanks Butcher Birds!

4 thoughts on “Brutal Benefits – Butcher Birds

  1. Love our butcher birds which we feed every day. But I have a concern about their droppings. Is there a health risk with this?

    1. Technically it isn’t good to feed the native birds as it can get them into bad/lazy habits, detracting from their longer term survivability. The droppings could carry some parasites but you should be ok unless you have a child crawling around in it. If you have it building up, it’d be a great garden resource. 🙂

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