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22

Ground Cuckoo-shrike

(Coracina maxima)
Alternate name(s): "Ground Jay", "Long-tailed Jay"
Aboriginal name(s): "kooraling" (WA)

Size: 34-37 cm
Weight: 120-155 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 Ground Cuckoo-shrike at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

ADULT

Frontal view of an adult Ground Cuckoo-shrike perched high up in a eucalypt; we have noticed that, when perched high in trees, Ground Cuckoo-shrikes have a preference for sitting on dead branches
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

Frontal view of an adult Ground Cuckoo-shrike on a paddock; the near-white iris characterises this bird as an adult
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2015]

Frontal view of three Ground Cuckoo-shrikes in a Casuarina tree
[Near Narrabri, NSW, July 2007]

Now only two remain...
[Near Narrabri, NSW, July 2007]

Frontal view of an adult Ground Cuckoo-shrike
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

Near-frontal view of a Ground Cuckoo-shrike calling; this is the birds whose calls were recorded on 23 January 2016
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

Lateral view of a Ground Cuckoo-shrike perched high up in a eucalypt
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

Lateral view of a Ground Cuckoo-shrike on a paddock
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2015]

Lateral view of an adult "sentry" Ground Cuckoo-shrike on a fence calling
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2015]

Lateral view of a Ground Cuckoo-shrike on a paddock issuing a call
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2015]

Dorsal view of a Ground Cuckoo-shrike on a paddock calling
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2015]

Distant dorsal view of a Ground Cuckoo-shrike; note the colour pattern and the characteristic bifurcated tail - this photo gives the typical "jizz" of a Ground Cuckoo-shrike when flushed from the ground
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2018]

Ventral view of a Ground Cuckoo-shrike stretching one of its wings, thereby showing its underwing pattern and fanning its tail
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

Lateral view of two Ground Cuckoo-shrikes in flight (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)
[Ashley, NSW, April 2014]

Lateral view of a Ground Cuckoo-shrike just after take-off
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2014]

Ventral view of a Ground Cuckoo-shrike in flight
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2015]

Although partly obscured, here one can see the pronounced spread of the forked tail into two fans when landing
[Near Narrabri, NSW, July 2007]

One of four (of a group of five) Ground Cuckoo-shrikes in flight; click on image to see four birds
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2018]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of an immature Ground Cuckoo-shrike
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2018]

Near-lateral view of an immature Ground Cuckoo-shrike
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2018]

Two immature Ground Cuckoo-shrikes; these birds, although they have immature plumage (rather than juvenile), were still begging their parents for food
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2018]

Adult Ground Cuckoo-shrike, top, with an immature bird, bottom; note the darker irises and the less pronounced facial mask of the immature bird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

Based on the inconspicuous facial mask, this is probably also an immature Ground Cuckoo-shrike; this is the bird heard most prominently in the sound recording obtained on 2 March 2016
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2016]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jul - Feb Eggs: 2 - 3 Incubation period: ca. 25? days Fledging age: ca. 28? days

Like some other bird species, Ground Cuckoo-shrikes are known to use helpers, possibly last season's offspring, when feeding their young.

Nest building: Female & male Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female, male & helpers

Nest

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

Type: Basket Material: Root fibres, grass stems, bark fibre, webs; fur and wool lining Height above ground: 2 - 25 m

Ground Cuckoo-shrike nests are larger and more obvious than the nests of other species of cuckoo-shrikes.

Pair of Ground Cuckoo-shrikes on a thick fork in a rough-barked Acacia salicina tree checking out its suitability for a nest site; 3 helpers, who had arrived with them remained in the background
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Pair of Ground Cuckoo-shrikes on a thick fork in a rough-barked Acacia salicina tree checking out its suitability for a nest site; 3 helpers, who had arrived with them remained in the background
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Female(?) Ground Cuckoo-shrike "test-sitting" the nest site
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Female(?) Ground Cuckoo-shrike getting up from the nest site, which was probably "proposed" by the male(?) on the left
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

This is the fork the Ground Cuckoo-shrikes were testing
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Eggs

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

Size: 34 x 24 mm Colour: Olive-brown, with brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Nomadic Elementary unit: Family clan

Ground Cuckoo-shrikes are vociferous birds that like to always keep in contact with their mates by frequently calling (cf. recordings below).

Ground Cuckoo-shrikes usually come in small family groups of up to about 6 birds
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2015]

Family of 5 Ground Cuckoo-shrikes on a levee, from where they also went to forage in the grass of a paddock
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2015]

Ground Cuckoo-shrikes are one of the bird species that deploy "sentries", while the rest of the clan is foraging on the ground; this one has chosen a picket as its vantage point, from where it called out to the others on the ground frequently and vociferously
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2015]

Ground Cuckoo-shrike sentry on a high perch
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2018]

Ground Cuckoo-shrike sentry on a low perch; can you spot the bird?
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2018]

Family of four Ground Cuckoo-shrikes in a Casuarina tree
[Near Narrabri, NSW, July 2007]

Aerial combat between two Ground Cuckoo-shrikes - one was eventually chased away by the other
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2018]

Food, Diet

Like all members of the Coracina family known to us, Ground Cuckoo-shrikes hunt small animals, up to the size of a Praying Mantis or a centipede, from low perches.

Lateral view of a Ground Cuckoo-shrike on a paddock with its prey, probably a dried-up dead worm
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2015]

Three Ground Cuckoo-shrikes foraging on a paddock; note the bird on the left, which was observed twice spreading its wings, as if to stun its prey in a way similar to a Black-necked Stork
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 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.

grcuck_20170805.m4a (NW NSW) Contact calls (pair in-flight) © MD
grcuck_20160128.mp3 (NW NSW) Contact calls (clan in-flight) © MD
grcuck_20160123_6.m4a (NW NSW) Contact calls(?) © MD
grcuck_20160123_7.mp3 (NW NSW) Contact calls(?) © MD
grcuck_20150417_2.mp3 (NW NSW) Q&A © MD
grcuck_20151205.mp3 (NW NSW) Sentry's calls © MD
grcuck_20150417.mp3 (NW NSW) Warning/departure © MD
grcuck_20160302.mp3 (NW NSW) Various (family of 4) © MD
grcuck_20160123_3.m4a (NW NSW) Various © MD
grcuck_20160820.mp3 (NW NSW) Various © MD
grcuck_20160123_4.m4a (NW NSW) Various © MD
grcuck_20160123.m4a (NW NSW) Various © MD
grcuck_20160123_2.mp3 (NW NSW) ? © MD
grcuck_20160123_5.mp3 (NW NSW) ? © MD
grcuck_20160123_8.m4a (NW NSW) ? © MD

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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