Crested shriketit

The crested shriketit (Falcunculus frontatus), or Australian shriketit, is a bird endemic to Australia where it inhabits open eucalypt forest and woodland. It is the only species contained within both the subfamily Falcunculinae and the genus Falcunculus.

Crested shriketit
Falcunculus frontatus - Dharug National Park
Crested Shrike-Tit kobble09
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Pachycephalidae
Genus: Falcunculus
Vieillot, 1816
F. frontatus
Binomial name
Falcunculus frontatus
(Latham, 1801)

see text

  • Lanius frontatus

Taxonomy and distribution

The crested shriketit was first described by the English ornithologist John Latham in 1801 under the binomial name Lanius frontatus.[2] Nuclear gene sequencing suggests that the crested shriketit and the wattled ploughbill may require their own family, Falcunculidae (Dickinson 2003).


Three subspecies are recognized, with disjunct ranges and sometimes considered full species:[3][4]

  • Northern shriketit (F. f. whitei), or White's shrike-tit - Campbell, AJ, 1910: Originally described as a separate species. Rare, with isolated records in the Kimberley region of north-western Australia and the Top End of the Northern Territory
  • Western shriketit (F. f. leucogaster), or white-bellied shrike-tit - Gould, 1838: sparsely distributed in south-western Western Australia
  • Eastern shriketit (F. f. frontatus) - (Latham, 1801): the stronghold of the species in south-eastern Australia from the Lower South-East of South Australia, coastally and in the Murray-Darling Basin to south-eastern Queensland, with some scattered occurrences further north and west in Queensland


Males are larger than females in wing length, weight, and bill-size.[5] Males have black throats, while females have olive green.


Falcunculus frontatus -Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne, Australia-8 (2)
Male eating a caterpillar

It feeds mainly on insects, spiders and, sometimes, particularly during the breeding season, young birds. Thistles are also taken. It has a parrot-like bill, used for distinctive bark-stripping behaviour, which gains it access to invertebrates.

Status and conservation

The eastern shriketit is evaluated as being of least concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the northern shriketit is considered endangered, and the western shriketit is listed as near threatened.[1] Both the northern and western crested shriketits suffer from habitat loss and fragmentation.[6]



  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2016). "Falcunculus frontatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  2. ^ Latham, John (1801). Supplementum indicis ornithologici sive systematis ornithologiae (in Latin). London: Leigh & Sotheby. p. xviii.
  3. ^ "IOC World Bird List 7.1". IOC World Bird List Datasets. doi:10.14344/
  4. ^ Higgins, P. J.; Peter, J. M. (2002). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Vol.6 Pardalotes to Shrike-thrushes (1. publ. ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press. pp. 1050–1063. ISBN 0-19-553762-9.
  5. ^ Noske, Richard (2003). "Does the crested shrike‐tit Falcunculus frontatus exhibit extended parental care?". Corella. 27: 118–119.
  6. ^ West, Judy. "Water for a Healthy Country" (PDF). Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Retrieved 12 November 2011.


  • Josep del Hoyo; Andrew Elliott; David Christie (2007). Handbook of the Birds of the World Picathartes to tits and chickadees. Lynx Communications. ISBN 978-84-96553-42-2.
  • Dickinson, E. C. 2003. The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. 3rd Ed. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.
  • Schodde, R. and I. J. Mason. 1999. Directory of Australian Birds. Passerines: i-x, 1-851. CSIRO Publishing, Canberra.

Lanius, the typical shrikes, are a genus of passerine birds in the shrike family. The majority of the family's species are placed in this genus. The genus name, Lanius, is derived from the Latin word for "butcher", and some shrikes are also known as "butcher birds" because of their feeding habits. The common English name "shrike" is from Old English scríc, "shriek", referring to the shrill call.African species are known as fiscals. That name comes from the Afrikaans word fiskaal ("public official", especially a hangman), because they hang their prey on thorns for storage.

Most Lanius species occur in Eurasia and Africa, but the great grey shrike has a circumpolar distribution, and the loggerhead shrike is confined to North America. There are no members of this genus or the shrike family in South America or Australia.

Lanius shrikes are birds of open habitats typically seen perched upright on a prominent perch like a treetop or a telegraph pole. They sally out for prey, taken in flight or the ground. These species primarily take large insects, but will also take small birds, reptiles and mammals. For large northern species such as the great grey, the majority of the prey will be vertebrates, especially in winter.

Despite their diet, these are not true birds of prey, and lack the strong talons of the raptors. Though they use their feet to hold smaller insects, larger prey items are impaled upon a sharp point, such as a thorn or the barbs of barbed wire. Thus secured they can be ripped open with the hooked bill.

Most Lanius shrikes are solitary, except when breeding and are highly territorial. Northern or temperate species such as the great grey and red-backed shrikes are migratory and winter well south of the breeding range.

The sexes of most species are distinguishable, the male invariably being the brighter bird where there is a difference.

There are some natural groupings within the genus, such as the seven African fiscals, the large grey species (ludovicianus, excubitor, meridionalis and sphenocercus) and the Eurasian brown-backed species (tigrinus, bucephalus, collurio, isabellinus, cristatus and gubernator). In the last group in particular, it has been difficult to define species’ boundaries, and in the past several of these shrikes have been lumped as conspecific.

The prehistoric shrike Lanius miocaenus has been described from Early Miocene fossils found at Langy, France.

List of bird genera

List of bird genera concerns the chordata class of aves or birds, characterised by feathers, a beak with no teeth, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, and a high metabolic rate.

List of birds of Australia

This is a list of the wild birds found in Australia including its outlying islands and territories, but excluding the Australian Antarctic Territory. The outlying islands covered include: Christmas, Cocos (Keeling), Ashmore, Torres Strait, Coral Sea, Lord Howe, Norfolk, Macquarie and Heard/McDonald. The list includes introduced species, common vagrants and recently extinct species. It excludes extirpated introductions, some very rare vagrants (seen once) and species only present in captivity. Nine hundred and fifty extant and extinct species are listed.

There have been three comprehensive accounts: the first was John Goulds Birds of Australia, the second Gregory Mathews, and third was the Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (1990-2006).

The taxonomy followed is from Christidis and Boles, 2008. Their system has been developed over nearly two decades and has strong local support, but deviates in important ways from more generally accepted schemes.

List of birds of Queensland

Queensland is the second-largest state in Australia but has the greatest biodiversity, with over 630 species of bird recorded (more than closest-rivals New South Wales or West Australia with both around 550). The sum total for continental Australia (including Tasmania) is currently estimated to be 815 species.

The high avian biodiversity is probably a reflection of the wide variety of habitats, from deserts to rainforests and mangroves to mulga, which make Queensland a birders paradise.

This list is based on the 1996 classification by Sibley and Monroe (though there has been a recent (2008) extensive revision of Australian birds by Christidis and Boles ) which has resulted in some lumping and splitting.

Those species labelled "endemic" are endemic to mainland Australia. There are 22 species that are only found in Queensland, these are annotated with an asterisk ( * ).

List of endemic birds of Australia

This article is one of a series providing information about endemism among birds in the world's various zoogeographic zones. For an overview of this subject see Endemism in birds.

List of least concern birds

As of May 2019, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists 8405 least concern avian species. 76% of all evaluated avian species are listed as least concern.

No subpopulations of birds have been evaluated by the IUCN.

This is a complete list of least concern avian species evaluated by the IUCN. Where possible common names for taxa are given while links point to the scientific name used by the IUCN.


The Pachycephalidae are a family of bird species that includes the whistlers, shrikethrushes, and three of the pitohuis, and is part of the ancient Australo-Papuan radiation of songbirds. Its members range from small to medium in size, and occupy most of Australasia. Australia and New Guinea are the centre of their diversity and, in the case of the whistlers, the South Pacific islands as far as Tonga and Samoa and parts of Asia as far as India. The exact delimitation of boundaries of the family are uncertain, and one species, the golden whistler, has been the subject of intense taxonomic scrutiny in recent years, with multiple subspecies and species-level revisions.

Wattled ploughbill

The wattled ploughbill (Eulacestoma nigropectus) is a small bird from New Guinea. It is the only member of the monotypic genus Eulacestoma and family Eulacestomidae.

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