Did you know?

When Cicadabirds eat they swallow insects head first, sometimes after repositioning the insect in their bill by using a branch as a support.

Usually silent. Harsh cicadalike buzzing mainly in breeding season. In north queensland calls are different, being a loud low pitched call
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
Minimum Size: 
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Breeding season: 
September to February
Clutch Size: 
22 days
Nestling Period: 
27 days
Conservation Status
Associated Plants
Plants associated with this species
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Common Cicadabird is a medium-small, sleek, elongated bird with long, pointed wings and a rather short and rounded tail,

The adult male and female birds are quite different.  The adult male is mostly dark blue-grey, with broad black mask while the adult female is brown above and creamy buff below, narrowly and boldly barred blackish. Females also have a grey top of head and blackish eye-stripe. Juvenile Cicadabirds are somewhat like the adult females but more heavily scaled above and streaked below. 

Cicadabirds usually occur singly or in pairs. They have a swift undulating flight interspersed with gliding. 

Similar species: 

Of the birds which are similar to Common Cicadabirds they are about the same size as or slightly smaller than Barred Cuckoo-shrikes,  much smaller than Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes and much larger than Varied Trillers. 

Where does it live?

Cicadabirds are not seen in Tasmania but are confined to the mainland where they occur widely in northern and eastern Australia as a common migrant in September to May. Some Cicadabirds winter in north Queensland while others travel to New Guinea.


In northern Australia Cicadabirds mainly inhabit rainforests, paperbark woodlands and mangrove areas. Those in the eastern and southern range are also occasionally found in open eucalypt forests adjacent to these habitats.

Seasonal movements: 

Cicadabirds are partly resident and partly migratory in parts of northern Australia but are solely a summer visitor throughout most of their Australian range. Southern and eastern populations winter in north Qld and New Guinea.

What does it do?

Cicadabirds feed mainly on insects but also eat fruits and seeds.  Mostly they forage in the crowns of trees, among the foliage, including mistletoes, and in and around bark.


The nest of a Cicadabird is a shallow cup shaped nest on a horizontal branch. They are usually made of dry grass, bark, fine twigs, casuarina needles and lichens held together with spider web and with lichen and moss attached to exterior.

Cicadabirds are usually silent but during building of a nest they will often sing and call briefly before returning with nesting material and call continuously when building and when flying to and from nest. Their voice is a high pitched cicada like buzzing.  

Both parent Cicadabirds feed nestlings and keep the nest tidy but only the female broods the eggs. Male Cicadabirds visit the nest less than females, at least later in nesting period, although the males act as guard and chase off other birds rather than attending nestlings. 

Living with us

Cicadabirds prefer mature forest or older regrowth and so are sensitive to logging in some forest-types.

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