Campephagidae – Cuckooshrikes, Cicadabirds, Trillers & Minivets

Barred Cuckooshrike Coracina lineata ©Ian Montgomery Website

The cuckooshrikes and allies in the family Campephagidae are small to medium-sized passerine bird species found in the subtropical and tropical Africa, Asia and Australasia. The 92 species are found in just six genera.

Cuckooshrikes are not closely related to either the cuckoos or to the shrikes; the name probably comes from the grey colour of many of the cuckooshrikes. Some of the species also bear a superficial resemblance to cuckoos, and have a similar undulating flight. The grey colouration has led to one of their other names, the greybird. In some parts of the world they have also been known as caterpillar-birds, a name derived from their diet. Although unsuspected earlier, DNA studies have suggested they may be related to the Old World orioles (Oriolidae), although they differ strongly in some morphological characteristics (such as skull morphology and the arrangements of feathers on the wing).

Overall the cuckooshrikes are medium to small arboreal birds, generally long and slender. The smallest species is the small minivet at 16 cm and 6–12 g, while the largest is the south Melanesian cuckooshrike at 35 cm and 180 grams. They are predominantly greyish with white and black, although the minivets are brightly coloured in red, orange, yellow and black, and the blue cuckooshrike of central Africa is all-over glossy blue. The four cuckooshrikes in the genus Campephaga exhibit sexual dimorphism, with males that have glossy black plumage and bright red or yellow wattles, the females having more subdued olive-green plumage. The genus Coracina is not monophyletic.

OThe majority are forest birds. Some species are restricted to primary forest, like the New Caledonian Cuckooshrike, others are able to use more disturbed forest. Around eleven species use much more open habitat, one Australian species, the Ground Cuckooshrike being found in open plains and scrubland with few trees.

The ‘true’ cuckooshrikes are usually found singly, in pairs, and in small family groups, whereas the minivets more frequently form small flocks. There is a considerable amount of variation within the family as a whole with regards to calls, some call very infrequently and some, principally the minivets, are extremely vocal. They are mainly insectivorous, and will take large hairy caterpillars. They have also been recorded eating small vertebrates, and some fruit, seeds and other plant matter.

Information about the breeding of this family is incomplete, with many species having never been studied. In all the species studied the cuckooshrikes are territorial; in species that do not migrate these territories are maintained year round. Cuckooshrikes are monogamous, with the pair bonds apparently lasting throughout the year. Only one instance of non-monogamous breeding has been recorded, an instance of polygyny in white-winged trillers in Australia, where one male aided two females in raising their young. Several species of cuckooshrike exhibit cooperative breeding. About four blotchy white, green or blue eggs are laid in a cup nest in a tree. Incubation is about two weeks.

Species List

There are generally thought to be 92 species of Cuckoo-shrikes. They are:

Ground Cuckooshrike Coracina maxima
Large Cuckooshrike Coracina macei
Javan Cuckooshrike Coracina javensis
Black-faced Cuckooshrike Coracina novaehollandiae
Wallacean Cuckooshrike Coracina personata
Buru Cuckooshrike Coracina fortis
Moluccan Cuckooshrike Coracina atriceps
Slaty Cuckooshrike Coracina schistacea
South Melanesian Cuckooshrike Coracina caledonica
North Melanesian Cuckooshrike Coracina welchmani
Stout-billed Cuckooshrike Coracina caeruleogrisea
Cerulean Cuckooshrike Coracina temminckii
Sunda Cuckooshrike Coracina larvata
Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike Coracina striata
Andaman Cuckooshrike Coracina dobsoni
Pied Cuckooshrike Coracina bicolor
Barred Cuckooshrike Coracina lineata
Boyer’s Cuckooshrike Coracina boyeri
White-rumped Cuckooshrike Coracina leucopygia
White-bellied Cuckooshrike Coracina papuensis
Manus Cuckooshrike Coracina ingens
Hooded Cuckooshrike Coracina longicauda
Halmahera Cuckooshrike Coracina parvula
Pygmy Cuckooshrike Coracina abbotti
New Caledonian Cuckooshrike Coracina analis
Grey Cuckooshrike Coracina caesia
White-breasted Cuckooshrike Coracina pectoralis
Grauer’s Cuckooshrike Coracina graueri
Madagascar Cuckooshrike Coracina cinerea
Comoros Cuckooshrike Coracina cucullata
Blue Cuckooshrike Coracina azurea
Mauritius Cuckooshrike Coracina typica
Reunion Cuckooshrike Coracina newtoni
Blackish Cuckooshrike Coracina coerulescens
Pale-shouldered Cicadabird Coracina dohertyi
Kai Cicadabird Coracina dispar
Common Cicadabird Coracina tenuirostris
Palau Cicadabird Coracina monacha
Yap Cicadabird Coracina nesiotis
Pohnpei Cicadabird Coracina insperata
Grey-capped Cicadabird Coracina remota
Makira Cicadabird Coracina salomonis
Black-bibbed Cicadabird Coracina mindanensis
Sulawesi Cicadabird Coracina morio
Sula Cicadabird Coracina sula
Pale Cicadabird Coracina ceramensis
Black-shouldered Cicadabird Coracina incerta
Black-tipped Cicadabird Coracina schisticeps
Black Cicadabird Coracina melas
Black-bellied Cuckooshrike Coracina montana
Black-bellied Cicadabird Coracina holopolia
White-winged Cuckooshrike Coracina ostenta
McGregor’s Cuckooshrike Coracina mcgregori
Indochinese Cuckooshrike Coracina polioptera
Black-winged Cuckooshrike Coracina melaschistos
Lesser Cuckooshrike Coracina fimbriata
Black-headed Cuckooshrike Coracina melanoptera

Golden Cuckooshrike Campochaera sloetii

Black-and-white Triller Lalage melanoleuca
Pied Triller Lalage nigra
White-rumped Triller Lalage leucopygialis
White-shouldered Triller Lalage sueurii
White-winged Triller Lalage tricolor
Rufous-bellied Triller Lalage aurea
Black-browed Triller Lalage atrovirens
White-browed Triller Lalage moesta
Varied Triller Lalage leucomela
St. Matthias Triller Lalage conjuncta
Polynesian Triller Lalage maculosa
Samoan Triller Lalage sharpei
Long-tailed Triller Lalage leucopyga

Black Cuckooshrike Campephaga flava
Red-shouldered Cuckooshrike Campephaga phoenicea
Petit’s Cuckooshrike Campephaga petiti
Purple-throated Cuckooshrike Campephaga quiscalina

Western Wattled Cuckooshrike Lobotos lobatus
Eastern Wattled Cuckooshrike Lobotos oriolinus

Rosy Minivet Pericrocotus roseus
Swinhoe’s Minivet Pericrocotus cantonensis
Ashy Minivet Pericrocotus divaricatus
Ryukyu Minivet Pericrocotus tegimae
Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus
Fiery Minivet Pericrocotus igneus
Little Minivet Pericrocotus lansbergei
White-bellied Minivet Pericrocotus erythropygius
Jerdon’s Minivet Pericrocotus albifrons
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris
Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus
Short-billed Minivet Pericrocotus brevirostris
Sunda Minivet Pericrocotus miniatus
Orange Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus
Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus speciosus

Species Links
  • Barred Cuckooshrike Coracina lineata

    IUCN Species Status
    This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion.
  • Barred Cuckooshrike Coracina lineata

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Barred Cuckooshrike Coracina lineata

    Species Account
    The barred cuckooshrike (Coracina lineata), also called the yellow-eyed cuckooshrike, is a species of bird in the family Campephagidae. It is found in eastern Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands.
  • Ryukyu Minivet Pericrocotus tegimae

    (Good) Image
  • Ryukyu Minivet Pericrocotus tegimae

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Ryukyu Minivet Pericrocotus tegimae

    Species Account
    The Ryukyu minivet (Pericrocotus tegimae) is a species of bird in the Campephagidae family. It is endemic to Japan.
  • White-winged Triller Lalage tricolor

    Species Account
    The White-winged Triller is a small, compact bird with a short slender bill, long wings and a rather long tail with a rounded tip…
  • White-winged Triller Lalage tricolor

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • White-winged Triller Lalage tricolor

    Species Account
    The white-winged triller (Lalage tricolor) is one of the smaller members of the cuckooshrike family, Campephagidae.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 92

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