Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo: Allan Briggs
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Photo: Allan Briggs

A common bird with a curious habit

THE black-faced cuckoo-shrike is a common bird in suburban areas and is found throughout Australia where it is often seen perched on power lines. It is one of four species of cuckoo-shrikes. They 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.

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.

They 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.

Aborigines have a special relationship with many of our native animals and the Yindjibarndi people of the Pilbara used to keep the black-faced cuckoo-shrike as pets.

They are quite territorial and will mate with the same partner each year in the same place. The nest is very small given the size of the bird and is made of a few sticks and pieces of bark bound together with spider’s webs. Usually two or three eggs are laid which are incubated by both parents.

Can be seen anywhere in the Gladstone area but there seems to be a bit of a hot spot along Police Creek.