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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

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

We see Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes, race "melanops", regularly in the area of Narrabri, NSW.

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]

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]

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]

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.

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_20140408_2.mp3 melanops (NW NSW) Various MD

We have also recorded the wing beat of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes.

blfcshr_20140502.mp3 melanops (NW NSW) Departure (group of 6-8) MD

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