A shrikethrush, also spelt shrike-thrush, is any one of five species of songbird that is a member of the genus Colluricincla. The shrikethrushes are either classified in the family Pachycephalidae, or in their own family Colluricinclidae. They have nondescript, predominantly brown or grey, plumage, but are accomplished singers,[1] their calls described as "strong, mellow and beautiful."[2] Shrikethrushes are generally insectivorous, though heve been recorded eating molluscs and berries. They build cup-shaped nests in the forks of trees.[3]

Nicholas Aylward Vigors and Thomas Horsfield described the genus in 1827, coining the genus name from the Ancient Greek words collurio "shrike" and cinclos "thrush". Noting the beak, they thought it related to shrikes or vangas, though its form was reminiscent of thrushes.[4] Shrikethrushes were commonly known as colluricinclas in the 19th century, but their current name was in use by the late 19th century.[5]

Molecular studies by Norman and colleagues in 2009 and Jønsson and colleagues in 2010 show the shrikethrushes to lie within the whistler family Pachycephalidae.[6][7]

Molecular dating suggests the shrikethrushes diverged from the common ancestor of the genus Pseudorectes (their closest relatives) in the mid-Pliocene around 3 million years ago, and that this combined lineage had diverged from the ancestor of the other members of the Pachycephalidae around 5 million years ago in the early Pliocene.[7] The Sangihe shrikethrush was found to be more closely related to the maroon-backed whistler and hence shifted to the genus Coracornis.[7] Genetic investigations of New Guinea populations of the little shrikethrush indicate high levels of genetic divergence, suggesting it may comprise more than one species.[8]

It contains the following species:

Species of Colluricincla
Common and binomial namesImageDescriptionRange
Bower's shrikethrush (Colluricincla boweri)Bowers strike thrush 2.jpgFar North Queensland
Grey shrikethrush (Colluricincla harmonica)Colluricincla harmonica mortimer.jpgThroughout mainland Australia and Tasmania
Little shrikethrush (Colluricincla megarhyncha)Little Shrike-thrush.jpgCoastal northeastern New South Wales, Queensland and Northern Territory into northern Western Australia
Sooty shrikethrush (Colluricincla tenebrosa)
Sandstone shrikethrush (Colluricincla woodwardi)Northern Territory into western Queensland and Western Australia


  1. ^ Slater, Peter (1974). A Field Guide to Australian Birds: Passerines. Adelaide, South Australia: Rigby. p. 192. ISBN 0-85179-813-6. 
  2. ^ Bruce Campbell, Elizabeth Lack (2010). A Dictionary of Birds. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 390. ISBN 9781408138380. 
  3. ^ Gould, John (1848). An introduction to the Birds of Australia. p. 38. 
  4. ^ Vigors, Nicholas Aylward; Horsfield, Thomas (1827). "A Description of the Australian Birds in the Collection of the Linnean Society; with an Attempt at Arranging them According to their Natural Affinities". Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 15: 170–331 [213]. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.1826.tb00115.x. 
  5. ^ Gray, Jeannie; Fraser, Ian (2013). Australian Bird Names: A Complete Guide. Csiro Publishing. ISBN 978-0-643-10471-6. 
  6. ^ Norman, Janette A.; Ericson, Per G.; Jønsson, Knud A.; Fjeldså, Jon; Christidis, Les (2009). "A multi-gene phylogeny reveals novel relationships for aberrant genera of Australo-Papuan core Corvoidea and polyphyly of the Pachycephalidae and Psophodidae (Aves: Passeriformes)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 52 (2): 488–97. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2009.03.019. 
  7. ^ a b c Jønsson, Knud A. ; Bowie, Rauri C. K. ; Moyle, Robert G. ; Christidis, Les ; Norman, Janette A. ; Benz, Brett W. ; Fjeldså, Jon (2010). "Historical biogeography of an Indo-Pacific passerine bird family (Pachycephalidae): different colonization patterns in the Indonesian and Melanesian archipelagos". Journal of Biogeography 37 (2): 245–57. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2009.02220.x. 
  8. ^ Deiner, Kristy; Lemmon, Alan R.; Mack, Andrew L.; Fleischer, Robert C.; Dumbacher, John P. (2011). "A Passerine Bird's Evolution Corroborates the Geologic History of the Island of New Guinea". PLoS 6 (5): e19479. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019479. 
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