Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike Click to enlarge image
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike Image: unknown
creative commons

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    novaehollandiae
    Genus
    Coracina
    Family
    Campephagidae
    Order
    Passeriformes
    Class
    Aves
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    32 cm to 34 cm

Cuckoo-shrikes are neither cuckoos nor shrikes, but are so called because their feathers have similar patterns to those of cuckoos and their beak shape resembles that of shrikes.

Identification

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes have a black face and throat, blue-grey back, wings and tail, and white underparts. They are slender, attractive birds. They have a curious habit of shuffling their wings upon landing, a practice that gave rise to the name 'Shufflewing', which is often used for this species. This shuffling is also carried out by most other species in this family. Young birds resemble the adults, except the black facial mask is reduced to an eye stripe.

Habitat

The Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike is found in almost any wooded habitat, with the exception of rainforests. It is also familiar in many suburbs, where birds are often seen perched on overhead wires or television aerials.

Distribution

The Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike is widespread and common. Outside the breeding season, large family groups and flocks of up to a hundred birds form.



Seasonality

Partially nomadic; some northwards migrations.

Feeding and diet

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes feed on insects and other invertebrates. These may be caught in the air, taken from foliage or caught on the ground. In addition to insects, some fruits and seeds are also eaten.

Communication

The call most often heard is a soft churring, often being described as a warbling 'creearck'.

Breeding behaviours

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes may mate with the same partner each year, and may use the same territories year after year. The nest is remarkably small for the size of the bird. It is a shallow saucer of sticks and bark, bound together with cobwebs. Both partners construct the nest and care for the young birds.

  • Breeding season: August to February; varies in more arid areas
  • Time in nest: 21 days

References

  • Pizzey, G. and Knight, F. 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
  • Schodde, R. and Tideman, S.C. (eds) 1990. Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds (2nd Edition). Reader's Digest (Australia) Pty Ltd, Sydney.