Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Some interesting facts on finding and learning about the Grey Shrike-Thrush in the High Country.
Along with stuff you can do with students or just on your own for when you find them.
Wanting to get your birds "down" (pun intended) for when you're taking journeys down the Mitta? We've got a few of the coolest birds in other blog posts on this FOTM - Friends of the Mitta site (search for the tag "birds").
Keep your eyes peeled - there will be more to come.
When you are in a group at the Mitta looking for Grey Shrike-Thrush - Increase your ability to do a little "arm waving" for your students or clients, and value-add your local environmental knowledge. Everyone loves to see wildlife when in the High Country.
Cool facts about the Grey Shrike-Thrush
They are one of Australia’s most loved songbirds
In Eastern Australia, they are mostly grey
In Northern Australia, they are mostly brown
They are both carnivores and herbivores
They keep the same partner for life
They prey upon other bird’s nests and eat their eggs and young
Their scientific name is Colluricincla harmonica for a reason… such a pretty and melodious song!
Are there Grey Shrike-Thrush birds in the High Country?
The Grey Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla harmonica) is one of the many birds that live in the high country around the Mitta Mitta River. They can be found in most areas of the Alpine National Park and the Mount Buffalo National Park. These birds will breed in the summer along with the Alpine Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla alpinus) and the Striped Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae).
Where do Grey Shrike-Thrush birds live?
These little fellas disappear to higher elevations during summer to breed and feed, then return for the winter/early spring when it's too cold up top, and the critters it feeds on are buried under the snow hibernating or waiting for spring to fly.
What other birds are found in the High Country along the Mitta?
Way too many to list here, but tons of cool birds (click the ones with links to see their own blog posts) including:
Collared Sparrow Hawk
Wedge Tailed Eagle
Fan Tailed Cuckoo
Masked and Dusky Wood Swallows
honeyeaters…. and more!
How can I tell this bird is a Grey Shrike-Thrush?
They have a beautiful song. This is why they are one of Australia’s most well known birds; for their melodies! They use these songs to communicate with one another and to find mates. They will often sing out loud to attract the attention of another bird. However other birds dislike this sound as they are well too aware of them being preditors.
Grey Shrike-Thrush in the High Country can also be identified with their grey colouring. They have patches of white on their face and breast with a bit of buff on the chest.
Males are browner than females, and young birds have varying amounts of red on their faces and wings.
Tips to see a Grey Shrike-Thrush (or really any bird) in the High Country
Avoid sudden movements
Don’t wear brightly coloured clothing
Bring some binoculars
Go up to birds slowly if you see one
Go in a small group
It’s amazing how fast birds in the High Country flit around, never being still, and constantly seem to hide behind a leaf or branch. This behavior can be frustrating for the birder, however, if you’ve ever seen any of the big birds of prey, and how fast and accurate they are when hunting, you’ll see how this keeps the little fellows from becoming a meal! (collared sparrowhawk, nankeen kestrel, goshawk and more).
Tips for Teachers on encouraging students' interest in cool birds in the High Country along the Mitta. These activities can be for any age group.
Get students to listen - it’s amazing what you can see when you are quiet and listen out for all the different sounds on the Mitta Mitta River.
As homework or pre-lesson to the excursion, get students to research one fun fact about some of the birds we have discussed before visiting the Mitta Mitta River. See if everyone can give you one fact when having a morning tea break.
Worksheets can be stressful for some students, and it would be more enjoyable for them to take in the experience away from the classroom. So rather than bringing a worksheet. Bring plain paper, and something to draw with - don’t forget something to lean on too! Get students to sit two meters apart from each other and they can spend 15 minutes (or whatever they can handle) of quiet drawing time. Where they find a bird to draw. This is quite a tricky task as birds move, so they might come back with a ‘moving’ drawing.
Get students to see what birds they can find, then see if they can identify them. They could record their findings in a table such as the one below.
Remember as they go about their daily business, the Grey Shrike-Thrush tend to be fairly secretive, moving along the rivers and trees. So if you're out and about in the High Country and you hear a whistle, or maybe even a shrill “alarm” call, keep your eyes peeled, as the Grey Shrike-Thrush, and other interesting birds may be nearby.
Have any cool photos of a Grey Shrike-Thrush or any other birds in the High Country along the Mita? We would love to see them. We can even add them to this blog article. Any photos post them to our Facebook page, Google My Business page, or email to Jeffe at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the Mitta Mitta River, contact us at Friends Of The Mitta.
Friends Of The Mitta
c/o Jeffe Aronson
124 Callaghans Rd
Anglers Rest, Victoria 3898
03 5159 7252
Join our Facebook group today
This blog article was co-written with Gem Black