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Scratchy Songbird

December 13, 2021

One of the great sounds of Spring and Summer that catches my ear every year is the scratchy call of the Rufous Songlark (Megalurus mathewsi). The books describe it as witcher-weedle witcher-weedle as well as other trills and phrases. The call of the male heralds the onset of the breeding season and it is so loud it can be heard from a great distance. In the non-breeding season, both sexes are fairly quiet and unobtrusive but, anyway, they migrate North or inland for Autumn and Winter.

Twice this year, I have come across two males having a ‘Battle of the Band’ duel. One pair was at Mangalore, and the other on the Rail Trail near Cheviot Tunnel. One would fly to an exposed perch belting out his song, then the other would appear and chase him away before choosing another perch to stage a reprise. In neither case, did I spot a female, so I’m not sure who they were trying to impress, but they sure impressed me.

Rufous Songlark, at Mangalore

Occasionally in our district I have come across the related Brown Songlark (Cincloramphus cruralis), which is a bigger bird, more often found on the ground or perched on a fence-post to sing and display.

The Rufous prefers a few trees and is often found on farms that have retained some paddock trees. As my photo suggests, they don’t mind a fence-post either.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lesley Ann Dalziel permalink
    December 14, 2021 6:55 am

    I love to hear the Rufous Songlark each spring, early summer at our place on Kobyboyn Road. He is singing “A-witchy, a-witchy” . I think he also needs water and long grass.

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