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A photo of a Apostlebird (Struthidea cinerea)
Apostlebird

Apostlebird

Struthidea cinerea

The Apostlebird, known scientifically as Struthidea cinerea, is a medium-sized bird with a length of approximately 33 cm. It presents a predominantly dark grey plumage, with a long black tail that may exhibit a greenish sheen under sunlight. The head, neck, and breast feathers are tinged with paler grey-white, while the wings bear a more brownish hue. This bird's legs and bill are black, and its eyes are either brown or white.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Apostlebird, look for its dark grey coloration and long tail. The paler grey-white brushing on the upper parts and the brownish wings are distinctive. The black bill and legs, along with the brown or white eyes, are also key identification features.

Habitat

The Apostlebird is found in dry open woodlands, with a preference for areas populated by Callitris trees in New South Wales, Casuarina in Queensland, and Lancewood-Bulwaddi communities in the Northern Territory.

Distribution

This species is native to inland eastern Australia, ranging from the mallee regions of northern Victoria and eastern South Australia, through New South Wales and central-western Queensland, up to the Gulf Country. There is also an isolated population in the Northern Territory.

Behaviour

Apostlebirds are known for their social nature, often traveling in groups that can number around 12, reminiscent of the 12 Biblical apostles. These groups may consist of family units that can merge into larger flocks during feeding. They exhibit a fission-fusion society, with group sizes varying between the winter and the breeding season.

Breeding

Apostlebirds engage in cooperative breeding, with typically only one breeding pair per group, supported by helper offspring and other adults. They construct mud nests high in trees, such as figs, and share responsibilities like incubation and nest defense. The breeding season spans from August to December, with nests being cup-shaped structures made of grass and mud. They lay 3 to 5 pale blue-white eggs, sparsely splotched with brown and lavender.

Conservation status

The Apostlebird is currently not listed as threatened under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. However, its status varies by state, being listed as threatened under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, although an action statement for its recovery has not been prepared. It is not listed as threatened on the 2007 advisory list of threatened vertebrate fauna in Victoria.

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