Family Woodswallows and Butcherbirds (Artamidae)

Least Concern

Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus)


French: Cassican à collier German: Graurücken-Krähenstar Spanish: Verdugo acollarado

L[anius]. torquatus


, 1801,

coastal south-east Australia


Often considered conspecific with C. argenteus (which see). Multilocus phylogenetic study#R indicates strong support for monophyly of present species, C. argenteus and C. mentalis (the “white-throated species group”), and the three have sometimes been separated in genus Bulestes; they may well be conspecific, but recent work#R supports their treatment as separate species. Nominate torquatus intergrades with leucopterus on W slopes of Great Dividing Range from S Queensland S to Otway Range, in Victoria. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. t. leucopterus Gould, 1848 – S half of Australia S of 20° S (except for desert areas of Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory and W half of Queensland), in E extending N in E Queensland (W of Great Dividing Range) towards S Cape York Peninsula.
  • C. t. torquatus (Latham, 1801) – coastal SE Queensland S (mainly E & S of Great Dividing Range) to Victoria.
  • C. t. cinereus (Gould, 1837) – Tasmania.
  • Descriptive notes

    27–30 cm; 68–99 g, 112 g (male cinereus). Medium-sized butcherbird having strong bill with sharp terminal hook. Male nominate race has top and sides of... read more


    Nominate race well studied. Three main song types: Territorial Song, heard all year, especially... read more


    Range of open habitats, mainly eucalypt (Eucalyptus) open forests and woodlands, including... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates, mainly insects, also small vertebrates, especially small birds and nestlings; some fruit and seeds, and nectar. Forages from... read more


    Laying generally from early Aug to Jan (mostly Sept–Oct), but breeding recorded in all months, probably in response to rain in arid... read more


    Sedentary. Many anecdotal reports of seasonal movements probably refer to post-breeding dispersal... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally rather uncommon and patchily distributed; more common in Tasmania. In some areas, numbers have declined because of clearing... read more

    Recommended citation

    Russell, E., Rowley, I., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 May 2019).