grey bird with black face
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike in poinciana tree

Cuckoo-shrikes are medium-sized grey birds which feed on “insects and small soft fruit such as native figs,” to quote Slaters’ invaluable Field Guide to Australian Birds yet again.  There are four Australian species and all are found in the Townsville region although only one, the Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Coracina novaehollandiae, is a common visitor to my garden.

The one above was moving around in our poplar gum and poinciana a few days ago and I have photographed others in the last few years:

grey bird grooming
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike grooming in our paperbark tree
grey bird in poplar gum
Immature Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, distinguishable by smaller area of black on head, in poplar gum

The White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Coracina papuensis, is similar to the immature Black-faced, but it is paler overall and the black on its face is only between beak and eye. The one below is the only one I have photographed in my garden although it is probably not the only one I have seen, since they are similar enough that I wouldn’t necessarily notice the difference.

grey bird on branch
White-bellied cuckoo-shrike in poinciana tree.

5 thoughts on “Cuckoo-shrikes”

  1. A couple of days ago I saw another White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike fly down to a branch of our poinciana tree with prey in its beak – a very large green caterpillar, as far as I can tell from the poor photos I managed to take – so the ‘other’ species really is around and seems to be eating well.

  2. I Identified this bird (Black faced Cuckoo-shrike) at work in a small tree on the footpath. I was able to get a very good look at it and saw it bashing a gecko against a branch. All info on feeding says invertebrates and some berries. Is it common for them to hunt small vertebrates?

    1. Hi, Grant,
      Well spotted! I haven’t noticed them going for vertebrates, or heard of it from anyone else, but it doesn’t surprise me, in that I would expect the prey’s size and agility to be more important than anything else.

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