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Magpie-Shrikes: Cracticidae

Physical Characteristics

Magpie-shrikes are members of the family Cracticidae, which is divided into five groups: peltopses, bristleheads, currawongs, Australian magpies, and butcherbirds. All are black-and-white or blackish birds with strong black feet and booted or scaled legs. The bill is straight, strong, has a tip ranging from hooked and notched to pick-shaped, lacks bristles, is swollen at the upper jaw base, and has nostrils that are deep within bony slits.

Peltopses have a black body with large white patches on face and back; a black bill; a red rump, lower belly, and undertail; and a long tail. Bristleheads have a red head, a black bill, and a dusky-gray short tail. Currawongs are big but slender birds with a black bill, bright yellow eyes, dark gray to blackish plumage (feathers) with white patches in the wings, a long, white-tipped tail, and rounded wings. Australian magpies have black-and-white plumage; black-and-white upperparts, black underparts, pointed wings, short tail, and long legs. Butcherbirds may be all-black to black-hooded with white patches, or all-white with black, gray, and white patterning. These birds have a two-colored bill with a blackish tip and whitish or pale bluish gray base.

Juveniles have similar plumage to adults, although duller and grayer. Fledglings (young birds with recently grown flight feathers), depending on species, may be rusty-brown, washed olive-yellow, or lack clear head patterns. Adults are 6.5 to 22 inches (17 to 55 centimeters) long and weigh between 1.1 and 17.6 ounces (30 and 500 grams).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsMagpie-Shrikes: Cracticidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Behavior And Reproduction, Bornean Bristlehead (pityriasis Gymnocephala): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, DIET, MAGPIE-SHRIKES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS