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Falcunculidae – Shrike-tits

Eastern Shrike-tit in Australia: Photo by J. J. Harrison

Falcunculidae, represented solely by three species, is a small family of passerine birds found in Australia. These birds have distinctive hooked bills, reminiscent of true shrikes, but their behavior and ecology differ markedly from those of their namesakes.

Overview of Falcunculidae

Three distinct subspecies of this unique Australian songbird inhabit the three corners of the continent—northwest, southwest, and southeast—where open, seasonally dry forests thrive. Among the many Australian birds christened by English settlers in homage to their European counterparts, this species indeed boasts the prominent head and robust hooked bill reminiscent of a shrike. Resembling a large tit in coloration, it shares the foraging behavior of its namesake, actively scouring branches and foliage for insects and often employing its powerful bill to dismantle bark in pursuit of prey. Emitting a melodious, elongated whistle, characteristic of numerous Australasian corvids, Shrike-tits also communicate with soft, jay-like contact calls exchanged between pair members and their offspring.