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Young plumage III

March 6, 2015

Cuckoo-shrike 1Cuckoo-shrike 2

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike

Adult Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike

A couple of earlier posts were about young birds with plumage differing from that of the adults, and here is another example. We came across a pair of obviously young and not too confident birds preening their downy feathers and making unusual, possibly begging, calls, although no adult birds seemed to be in the immediate vicinity. They were identifiable to us as cuckoo-shrikes, and we assumed them to be juvenile Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes, the common local species. But without the black facial colouring being fully developed (cf adult below), the young birds (above and at right) could possibly be mistaken for White-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes, a species we have come across in Seymour Bushland Park. The fine barring on the crown and dark shadow behind the eye (not clear in the photos) seemed to indicate Black-faced.

The cuckoo-shrikes are neither cuckoos nor shrikes and the origin of the term is somewhat obscure, although probably due to their undulating flight similar to a cuckoo and their shrike-like bill. The Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike has had a wide variety of common names, including Blue or Grey Jay, Shufflewing, Leatherhead, Stormbird, Cherry Hawk and several others. None seems entirely satisfactory for this very elegant bird.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes are migratory, moving north for winter, although not all birds do so and we have recorded them here throughout winter in three out of the past fifteen years. The unmistakable call of the adult bird, recorded locally, can be heard by clicking on the audio below.

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