Common Cicadabirds are the smallest Australian cuckoo-shrikes.
The Common Cicadabird is the only Australian cuckoo-shrike with a
Common Cicadabirds are dark-grey throughout, with a black eye stripe
and near-black tail and flight feathers with dark-grey edge lining.
Apart from an off-white throat patch,
Common Cicadabirds have a
light-brown front with thin darker-brown barring from the
upper chest to the lower belly. They have dark-brown eye
stripes, lighter brown eyebrows and light-and-dark brown
striated ear coverts. The frons, crown and back, from the
nape of the neck to the tail, are all greyish-brown. The
flight feathers are dark-brown, with lighter brown edge
The eyes of both sexes have black irises. The thin, slightly
down-curved bill, the legs and feet are all dark-grey.
but are more heavily barred.
The overall distribution of this species can be assessed, and
specific locations where birds have been spotted can be found,
based on individual sighting reports submitted by birdwatchers to
The global distribution of the Cicadabird is available
There are several races of Cicadabirds. Altogether their range
spans across eastern Indonesia, Timor Leste, New Guinea and the
Solomon Islands, extending southwards to Australia.
In Australia two races of Common Cicadabirds are found.
breeds only in Australia. It occurs along the East coast, from South of
Cape Melville, QLD, to about the NSW/VIC border, and along the
eastern slopes of the Great Dividing Range. Occasionally they
extend their range farther inland, up to the western slopes of the
Great Dividing Range (including, e.g.,
Warrumbungle NP and
the Pilliga scrub).
Along the (near-)coastal fringe of tropical North Australia, from
Cape Melville, QLD, throughout the northern part of Cape York peninsula,
the Top End of the NT and the Kimberley in WA, endemic race
A male Common Cicadabird, race
was spotted by C. Hayne at Ballina, NSW, in December 2012.
B. Hensen reports spotting Common Cicadabirds, race
at St. Albans, NSW, in December 2012 and again in March 2018.
A Common Cicadabird, race
was heard calling by us at Upper Bullawa Creek,
Mt. Kaputar NP,
in October 2013. We thank B. Hensen for identifying the bird's
A Common Cicadabird was found at the same location again in January 2018.
In December 2013 a pair was observed at Deriah Aboriginal Area.
Several Common Cicadabirds, race
were observed in Leard State Forest, near Maules Creek,
NSW, in November 2014.
Scott reports spotting a Common Cicadabird, race
Roseberry Creek Valley, near Toonumbar NP, northern NSW, in December 2016.
B. Hensen reports finding a Common Cicadabird, race
at St. Albans, NSW, in February 2014.
M. Eaton spotted a Common Cicadabird, race
at Anstead Reserve, Anstead, QLD, in November 2018, and another at the
same location in December 2019.
B. Hensen reports spotting a female Common Cicadabird, race
in Darwin, NT, in August 2013.
Near-lateral/ventral view of a male Common Cicadabird;
mellow early morning light gives it a brownish hue
(photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Anstead Reserve, Anstead, QLD, December 2019]
Lateral view of a male Common Cicadabird (photo courtesy of
[Roseberry Creek Valley, near Toonumbar NP, northern NSW, December 2016]
Mimicking cicada calls, Common Cicadabirds wait for a response. If they
get one, they will pounce on their prey.
Male Common Cicadabird observed by us calling by mimicking a cicada
(upper left) and then checking for any response; the bird mimicked
both the long-drawn rattle of a cicada and the short burst that can
be heard during take-off
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, December 2013]
As their names already suggest, Common Cicadabirds have a preference for
Cicadas, caterpillars and other relatively large insects.
Male Common Cicadabird with its prey, a caterpillar (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, February 2014]
These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our
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please refer to a field guide.
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described on these pages, including the Gomeroi/Gamilaraay people
of the North-west Slopes and Plains of NSW, and the traditional
owners of other lands and nations within this country. We acknowledge
elders past, present and emerging. Sovereignty was never ceded.
Thu, 2 February 2023, 4:36 +00:00