One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A shrike (family Laniidae), which impales its prey on thorns.
- ‘Since the isabellinus group is morphologically and biologically intermediate between the other two groups. it would be more cautious today to combine all forms of butcher-birds into a single polytypic species.’
- ‘The butcher-bird is today's loggerhead shrike, found only rarely anywhere in Massachusetts now.’
- ‘Also known as the gray shrike, the great butcher-bird is known for securing its prey to thorns so that it can more easily tear it apart.’
- ‘Woodlands are the butcherbird's natural habitat, but like many similar species they have adapted well to urbanisation and can be found in leafy suburbs.’
- ‘For the purposes of our bird news services, Grey Butcherbird is classed as ungraded: species which are unlikely to appear as wild birds in Britain.’
2A predacious Australasian songbird, with a heavy hook-tipped bill.
Family Cracticidae: three genera, in particular Cracticus, and several speciesCompare with magpie (sense 2)
- ‘The Pied Butcher Bird is a black hooded Butcher Bird with a superb song.’
- ‘The adult Grey Butcherbird has a black crown and face and a grey back, with a thin white collar.’
- ‘The Pied Butcherbird is a medium-sized black and white bird (33cm - 37cm)’
Mid 17th century: from its habit of impaling its prey on thorns.
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