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 family Falcunculidae and the genus Falcunculus.

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

See text

  • Lanius frontatus

Taxonomy and distributionEdit

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 required its 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; is 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.


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 conservationEdit

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. 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2017.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  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. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 October 2009. 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.