The Apostlebird (Struthidea cinerea) is native to Australia and has dark gray bird with stout black bill, speckled plumage, brown on the wings, quick-moving and full of character. Highly gregarious, they are usually seen in family groups that forage on the ground, although you do see them up in trees. They follow each other around, chattering to each other constantly. A group can consists of up to 30 birds. The early settlers had named these birds in relation to the apostles of Jesus Christ, believing that they were in groups of twelve birds.

The Apostlebirds belong to a group of birds known as ‘mud-nesters’, in the Corcoracidae family, that are noted for their communal activities and their nests that are constructed from mud and plant fibres. They are often associate with another gregarious species, the White-winged Chough, both species build distinctive nests from mud, although the Apostlebirds’ nest is smaller.

They are found throughout eastern Australia, more commonly in the drier inland areas, as well as some coastal areas, and also the northern inland part of the Top End of the Northern Territory. They have become habituated to the presence of people in some camping and picnic areas.

Images © Dorothy L

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Corcoracidae
  • Genus: Struthidea
  • Species: S. cinerea
  • Binomial name: Struthidea cinerea