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22

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike

(Coracina novaehollandiae)
Alternative names: "Blue Jay", "Grey Jay", "Shufflewing", "Summerbird", "Blue Pigeon", "Lapwing*", "Cherry-hawk", "Leatherhead*"
Aboriginal name: "gunidjaa" [yuwaalaraay]

Size: 30-36 cm
Weight: 110 g (average)

Similar species

SUBSECTIONS:     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Taxonomy, classification

See Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

(for details refer to a field guide)

Click here to display information on habitat, range and finding this species

Sightings

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes are very distinctive birds, easy to identify. We see race "melanops" regularly in the area of Narrabri, NSW.

Click here to display more sighting information

Photos

Race "melanops"

Frontal view of a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2012]

Near-frontal view of a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

Lateral view of a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2011]

Near-dorsal view of a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
[20 km south of Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Dorsal view of a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2012]

Ventral view of a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, October 2012]

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike dropping a bombshell...
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2013]

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike launching itself into the air
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2008]

Lateral view of a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike in flight
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2011]

Frontal view of an immature Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2012]

Frontal view of an immature Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike with an unusual light-coloured chin patch
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2014]

Near-frontal view of an immature Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

Lateral view of an immature Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2009]

Near-dorsal view of an immature Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2012]

This Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike is so young that is does not have any characteristic colour features on its head yet - it was identified by association with its parents, who were always nearby feeding it
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2011]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Jan Eggs: 2 Incubation period: 21 - 22 days Fledging age: ca. 21 days

Given the right conditions, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes can breed at any time of the year.

Nest building: Male & female Incubation: Male & female Dependent care: Male & female

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = Nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Twigs, rootlets, bark fibre, casuarina leaves, bound with spider webs Height above ground: 5 - 25 m

Nests of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes are constructed on the angle of a fork. They are rather shallow, small baskets, often shaped flat as a saucer, and sometimes quite rudimentary affairs (similar to the nests of Tawny Frogmouths).

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike on its nest (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)
[Near Moree, NSW, August 2012]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 31 x 22 mm Colour: Creamy brown, with darker brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: ? Mobility: Sedentary and nomadic Elementary unit: Any, from solitary to large flock

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes have a distinct hunting style. They often check out paddocks from fences, moving along the fence line about 10 to 20 metres at a time.

Frontal view of a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike cooling by slightly spreading its wings
[20 km south of Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Food, Diet

Like all members of the Coracina family known to us, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes hunt small animals, up to the size of a Praying Mantis or a centipede. We have also observed a family of birds feeding on fruit (mulberries).

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike with a centipede, an animal that is poisonous and thereby not taken by most predators
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2008]

This Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike has caught what looks like a locust
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2011]

Here one Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike of a whole family in a mulberry tree
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike feeding on fruit (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, October 2012]

Call/s

For this species we have recorded the following call/s. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

blfcshr_art_20131114.mp3 Contact calls A. Ross-Taylor
blfcshr_20140119_2.mp3 Contact calls M. Dahlem
blfcshr_20140311.mp3 "Cat whistle" call M. Dahlem
blfcshr_20140408_2.mp3 Various M. Dahlem

These pages are largely based on our own observations. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.