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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

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

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for 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; this bird is in the latest stage of the moult into adult plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2012]

Frontal view of an immature Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike hunting off a low perch; note the characteristically cocked head while scanning the surroundings for prey
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2015]

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]

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

Frontal view of an immature Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike that is starting to moult into adult plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2008]

The same immature Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike as above, seen at a slightly different angle
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2008]

Juvenile Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike waiting to be fed by its parents; note how the bird is angling its wings for evaporative cooling (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Merredin, WA, February 2015]

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

In preparation of mating, the male Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, front, flaps its wings, while the female, back, adopts a submissive posture... (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, November 2014]

... before the male gets into position (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, November 2014]

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, with its partner nearby and an immature Olive-backed Oriole right by them that is not considered to be a threat and therefore tolerated near the nest
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2014]

The same Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike as above on its nest, now seen between the two branches forming the fork in which the nest rests
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2014]

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

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike on its nest (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Doctors Flat Road, East Gippsland, VIC, October 2013]

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike on its nest (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Tweed River, Tweed Heads, NSW, December 2014]

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 fence posts or pickets, moving along the fence line about 10 to 20 metres at a time.

Family of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike hunting from a fence
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2015]

Closer look at an adult Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike hunting from a fence
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2015]

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

Occasionally we see small groups of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes having vocal arguments. The bird shown below is one of such a group.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike fluttering its wings; this is one of the birds whose calls were recorded on 2 October 2014
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2014]

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 melanops
(SE QLD)
Contact calls ART
blfcshr_20140119_2.mp3 melanops
(NW NSW)
Contact calls MD
blfcshr_20140722.mp3 melanops
(NW NSW)
Contact calls MD
blfcshr_20140311.mp3 melanops
(NW NSW)
"Cat whistle" call MD
blfcshr_20141002.mp3 melanops
(NW NSW)
Group having an argument MD
blfcshr_20150119.mp3 melanops
(NW NSW)
Pair + begging juveniles MD
blfcshr_20140408_2.mp3 melanops
(NW NSW)
Various MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.