Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes–Coracina novaehollandiae are a common bird species around our home in Broome, Western Australia. They are present throughout much of Australia and as their name would suggest they have a black face! They have one very distinct feature when they land, which is that they shuffle their wings. It appears as if they just need to lie their wings correctly to be comfortable and it is never quite right when they first land. One of their nicknames is “shufflewings”, but in most notebooks birders will just write BFCS. The only other similar species is the White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, but it is a much smaller species and the call is quite different.
Recently we have had Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes visiting our garden for a drink. They are often nearby and breed locally, but we don’t always have them at the water. We have had some very hot days and we are all in need of extra hydration and it is no different for our feathered friends. We have two areas where birds can come to get a drink and the terracotta saucers have small rocks in to enable the birds to judge the depth. The water drips down constantly and many different birds visit throughout the day. If you look back over the years I have written often about the birds that visit the water in our garden. Here are some Brown Honeyeaters enjoying the water in 2014 and Zebra Finch in 2012 at this location.
When the Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike first came in for a drink it appeared to be exhausted and perched on the edge of the saucer and then slowly drank. We know the feeling all too well when it appears to be too hot to do much at all.
The following day a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike returned and it was quite likely the same individual. It started in the same area and then moved to the water under our Billygoat Plum tree. The bird shuffled its wings as it landed and then after taking a long drink it moved into the shade for some time. The large native tree offers many insects amongst its branches as well as shade and is popular with all of the birds.
I think I have covered most of the poses of a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike with a slight wing shuffle in the last two photos!
Birdlife Australia has chosen the Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike for the bird of the month, so it only seemed appropriate that I should give them a mention this week before the month is over!