The crested shriketit (Falcunculus frontatus) is a bird endemic to Australia where it inhabits open eucalypt forest and woodland. It is the only species contained within both the genus and subfamily Falcunculus.
Taxonomy and distribution
Nuclear gene sequencing suggests that the crested shriketits and the wattled ploughbill may require their own family, Falcunculidae (Dickinson 2003). There are three subspecies (sometimes considered full species) with disjunct ranges:
- Northern crested shriketit (F. f. whitei) - Campbell, AJ, 1910: rare, with isolated records in the Kimberley region of north-western Australia and the Top End of the Northern Territory
- Western crested shriketit (F. f. leucogaster) - Gould, 1838: sparsely distributed in south-western Western Australia
- Eastern crested shriketit (F. f. frontatus) - (Latham, 1801): the stronghold of the species 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. Males have black throats, while females have olive green.
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 conservation
The eastern crested shriketit is evaluated as being of least concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the northern crested shriketit is considered endangered, and the western crested shriketit is listed as near threatened. Both the northern and western crested shriketits suffer from habitat loss and fragmentation.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Falcunculus frontatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Latham, John (1801). Supplementum indicis ornithologici sive systematis ornithologiae (in Latin). London: Leigh & Sotheby. p. xviii.
- 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.
- Noske, Richard (2003). "Does the crested shrike‐tit Falcunculus frontatus exhibit extended parental care?". Corella. 27: 118–119.
- West, Judy. "Water for a Healthy Country" (PDF). Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. 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.
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