Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Ground cuckooshrike

Coracina maxima

Photo by Russel Jenkins (Bird Forum)

Common name:
ground cuckooshrike (en); lagarteiro-da-terra (pt); échenilleur terrestre (fr); oruguero terrestre (es); grundraupenfänger (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Campephagidae

This species is endemic to Australia, being found throughout the Australian mainland, but especially in the interior.

These birds are 31-38 cm long and weigh 124-155 g.

The ground cuckooshrike is found in open, dry habitats, including dry scrublands and grasslands, sparse dry savannas and Eucalyptus woodlands, also using pastures and arable land.

They mainly hunt adult and larval insects, including mantids, grasshoppers, locusts, stick insects and ants, but also take spiders and possibly even small birds such as house sparrows Passer domesticus. Occasionally also plant material such as fruits and berries.

Ground cuckooshrikes can breed all year round, usually after rains. They nest communally and sometimes show cooperative breeding, with the breeding pair being helped by the young from the previous year. The nest is a a deep cup made of fine dry twigs, small roots, bark and herbs, held together with spider webs. It is lined with lichens, moss and wool, and placed in an horizontal branch or fork in a tree, 3-15 m above the ground. They can also use old nest from other birds. The female lays 2-4 but there is no information regarding the incubation period. The chicks are fed by both parents and by the helpers, and fledge about 29 days after hatching.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range but is reported to be erratic and generally uncommon. The population is estimated to be in decline following declines detected in Victoria since the 1970s due to habitat destruction.

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