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