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20

Grey Shrike-thrush

(Colluricincla harmonica)
Alternate name(s): "Grey Thrush", "Brown Shrike-thrush", "Buff-bellied Shrike-thrush", "Harmonious Thrush", "Native Thrush", "Whistling Shrike-thrush", "Whistling Dick", "Pluff", "Mourner"
Aboriginal name(s): Race "harmonica": "dharruwii" [yuwaalaraay];
Race "rufiventris": "koodelong" (WA)

Size: 22-25 cm
Weight: 47-84 g

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Grey Shrikethrush at Wikipedia .

Click here for classification information

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .

Race "harmonica"

ADULT

MALE

Frontal view of a male Grey Shrike-thrush; note the white patches in front of the eyes characterising this bird as a male (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, May 2014]

Frontal view of a male Grey Shrike-thrush
[Near Bugilbone, NSW, May 2017]

Close-up near-frontal view of a male Grey Shrike-thrush
[Dorrigo NP, NSW, August 2015]

Close-up lateral view of a male Grey Shrike-thrush
[Dorrigo NP, NSW, August 2015]

Close-up lateral view of a male Grey Shrike-thrush
[Dorrigo NP, NSW, August 2015]

Close-up near-dorsal view of a male Grey Shrike-thrush
[Dorrigo NP, NSW, August 2015]

Near-dorsal view of a male Grey Shrike-thrush issuing its call from a vantage point
[Munmorah SCA, NSW, July 2013]

Male, left, and female, right, Grey Shrike-thrushes establishing their territory in a rural garden, where they were nesting at the time (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Near Tenterfield, NSW, January 2016]

FEMALE

Frontal view of a female Grey Shrike-thrush
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, October 2010]

Frontal view of a female Grey Shrike-thrush foraging in leaf litter
[Near Barraba, NSW, July 2013]

Near-frontal view of a female Grey Shrike-thrush foraging in leaf litter
[Near Barraba, NSW, July 2013]

Lateral portrait of a female Grey Shrike-thrush
[Warrabah NP, NSW, September 2010]

Close-up lateral view of a female Grey Shrike-thrush (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lamington NP, QLD, February 2018]

Lateral view of a tame female Grey Shrike-thrush
[Arkaroola, SA, March 2008]

Close-up lateral view of a female Grey Shrike-thrush (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, September 2014]

Laeral view from below of a resting female Grey Shrike-thrush; note the sparsity of features, with a very inconspicuous eye-ring no light-grey on the lore, almost no colour gradient down the front and only minimal dark streaking on the breast
(photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Dundowran Beach, Hervey Bay, QLD, May 2018]

Near-dorsal view of a female Grey Shrike-thrush (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, May 2014]

Dorsal view of a female Grey Shrike-thrush (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island, SA, March 2016]

Dorsal view of a female Grey Shrike-thrush (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lamington NP, QLD, February 2018]

Sex unknown

Grey Shrike-thrush preening
[February 2012]

"Rotor-head" Grey Shrike-thrush
[September 2010]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Near-frontal view of a juvenile Grey Shrike-thrush; the brown feathers near its eye characterise this bird as a juvenile bird (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Lateral view of a juvenile Grey Shrike-thrush
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, January 2006]

Lateral view of a juvenile Grey Shrike-thrush (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Cassilis Road, Swifts Creek, East Gippsland, VIC, December 2014]

Dorsal view of a juvenile Grey Shrike-thrush (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Close-up portrait of a juvenile Grey Shrike-thrush (photo courtesy of R. Druce); the light colour of the bill suggests that this is still a very young bird

Race "strigata"

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of a juvenile Grey Shrike-thrush; note the rufous patches above the eyes and the yellowish gape (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Bruny Island, TAS, March 2016]

Race "rufiventris"

This race is also called "Western Shrike-thrush".

ADULT

Lal view of a Grey Shrike-thrush, race "rufiventris"; note the characteristic rufous vent (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Ormiston Gorge, near Alice Springs, NT, in July 2018]

Near-dorsal view of a Grey Shrike-thrush (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boolardy Station, Murchison, WA, August 2016]

Race "brunnea"

ADULT

MALE

Lateral view of a male Grey Shrike-thrush (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Marrakai track, Top End, NT, August 2018]

FEMALE

Near-dorsal view of a Grey Shrike-thrush, race "brunnea" (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Marrakai track, Top End, NT, July 2014]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Lateral view of a juvenile Grey Shrike-thrush - note the rufous supercilium (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Marrakai track, Top End, NT, August 2018]

Dorsal view of a juvenile Grey Shrike-thrush (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Marrakai track, Top End, NT, August 2018]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jul - Mar Eggs: 2 - 4 Incubation period: 16 - 18 days Fledging age: 14 - 17 days

Given the right conditions, Grey Shrike-thrushes can breed any time of the year.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Broad leaves or bark strips with grass lining Height above ground: 0-2 m

Grey Shrike-thrushes are usually ground-nesting birds. Their nests tend to be hidden between grass tussocks or near the base of a shrub, in dense underbrush. However, we have also found them nesting in ranking vines and dense shrubs, up to 2 m above the ground.

View into a Grey Shrike-thrush nest in a vine, about 2 m above ground, with 3 chicks in it; the tree stands in a gully, bringing the nest to about the level of the creek bank
[Moree, NSW, September 2015]

Here mum Grey Shrike-thrush has just delivered food
[Moree, NSW, September 2015]

This Grey Shrike-thrush nest, with two almost naked chicks in it, was found at a height of about 1.5 m from the ground, in a small tree in close proximity to humans
[Near Binnaway, NSW, September 2015]

Three Grey Shrike-thrush chicks in a nest built in a decorative plant in a hanging basket under the awning of a house (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Near Tenterfield, NSW, January 2016]

A look into a Grey Shrike-thrush nest the day after it was abandoned shows the paucity of lining material used in this case (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Near Tenterfield, NSW, January 2016]

Grey Shrike-thrush collecting thin strips of bark as nesting material; this particular specimen is not shy at all - it is preparing a nest in a hanging flowerpot under the awning of a building
[Near Coonabarabran, NSW, 2006]

Female Grey Shrike-thrush carrying nesting material (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Anstead, QLD, August 2017]

Grey Shrike-thrush carrying nesting material
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, September 2008]

The nest shown below was still under construction by the bird in the photo above and its partner; since they were still carrying mostly bark for the outer walls, it is possible that finer material for lining the inside was still to follow.

Grey Shrike-thrush nest on the ground, hidden in dense growth under a wattle shrub
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, September 2008]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 29 x 21 mm Colour: Creamy, with big, dark-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Grey Shrike-thrush nest with 3 eggs in it (photo courtesy of B. Neighbour)
[Lorne, NSW, November 2016]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Sedentary/dispersive Elementary unit: Solitary/pair

Grey Shrike-thrushes can be very curious - in some cases so much so that it gets them into trouble.

Grey Shrike-thrush as the "parking attendant"
[Dorrigo NP, NSW, February 2012]

This Grey Shrike-thrush was trapped overnight inside a building overnight
[Dorrigo NP, NSW, February 2012]

Grey Shrike-thrushes are one of the bird species that will try to fight off a potential competitor when confronted with their mirror image.

Grey Shrike-thrush trying to impress the competitor in the mirror...
[Warrabah NP, NSW, September 2010]

Food, Diet

Grey Shrike-thrushes are known for their varied diet. They feed on insects and other animals, including chicks of smaller birds, lizards, mice, frogs and spiders. They are also known to take fruit and seeds.

Male Grey Shrike-thrush with its prey, a small insect that it took from leaf litter
[Manning Point, NSW, July 2013]

Female Grey Shrike-thrush with an insect it has just caught
[Bullawa Creek SCA, near Narrabri, NSW, Aubust 2017]

Male Grey Shrike-thrush bringing food for its brood (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Near Tenterfield, NSW, January 2016]

Female Grey Shrike-thrush bringing food for its brood (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Near Tenterfield, NSW, January 2016]

This immature Grey Shrike-thrush has caught an insect (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Female Grey Shrike-thrush having a drink from a waterhole
[Pilliga scrub, NSW, November 2018]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

Grey Shrike-thrushes are vociferous birds. Once their calls are known, one will hear them out in the bush frequently (usually getting in the way of recording other species' calls...).

grshrth_20171129_2.m4a harmonica
(NE NSW)
Contact calls © MD
grshrth_20150328.m4a harmonica
(NE NSW)
Contact call (female) © MD
grshrth_20160505.mp3 harmonica
(NW NSW)
Contact call (female) © MD
grshrth_20140115.mp3 harmonica
(NW NSW)
Territorial call (male) © MD
grshrth_20141017.mp3 harmonica
(NW NSW)
Territorial call (male), with long lead-up © MD
grshrth_art_20131215.m4a harmonica
(SE QLD)
Territorial calls © ART
grshrth_20171129.m4a harmonica
(NE NSW)
Warning + territorial call © MD
grshrth_20141203.mp3 harmonica
(NW NSW)
Q&A © MD
grshrth_art_20131128.mp3 harmonica
(SE QLD)
Various © ART
grshrth_20140526.mp3 harmonica
(N NSW)
? © MD
Click here for more recordings

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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