The Black-faced Cuckooshrike (Coracina novaehollandiae) is a medium-size to large omnivorous passerine bird that is native to Australia and southern New Guinea. A wide spread species, it is neither a cuckoo nor a shrike, being named for some of the physical attributes from each family.

Black-faced Cuckooshrike (Coracina novaehollandiae)
Black-faced Cuckooshrike (Coracina novaehollandiae)

Identified by the distinctive black mask and throat, the cuckoo-shrike is pale grey above and paler to white on the underparts. Feathers along the edge of the wings are darker and barred with a lighter grey. Young birds are similar to the adults except for the black facial mask, which is just an eye stripe. There is a dark morph known as the White-bellied Cuckooshrike, with more extensive black in the adult face, whilst the light morph and the immature bird lacks the mask.

The Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike also have a distinctive, undulating flight pattern, where they gain height by flapping their wings, then folding the wings back to glide forward and down, before flying back up and repeating the flight pattern. They also have a habit of shuffling their wings, alternately up and down, whenever they land.

They can be found across wooded habitats, except in rainforests. They are also seen in farmland and urban areas.

The Black-faced Cuckooshrike forage for insects and other invertebrates. They can also catch insects in flight. They are also known to eat some fruits and seeds.

Common name
Black-faced Cuckooshrike, also spelt Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Have also be called Large Cuckoo-shrike, Shufflewing, Blue Jay, grey jay, Cherry Hawk, Summerbird. Eastern and Central Arrernte word is Mekalhampwe.

Images © Dorothy L

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Campephagidae
  • Genus: Coracina
  • Species: C. novaehollandiae
  • Binomial name: Coracina novaehollandiae