The Grey Shrike-thrush - Colluricincla harmonica - has a black bill and grey head with white lores. Breast is pale grey with darker vertical lines. Back is brown or grey, wings and tail grey; underparts are light grey. Size is about 24 centimetres.
Widespread in diverse habitats including coastal open forest, woodland and gardens to tropical woodlands and the arid mallee and mulga of the interior. Takes small insects, spiders, lizards, frogs, mice, nestlings and eggs of small birds; occasionally also seeds and fruit. Forages on tree trunks, branches and in foliage; finds prey under bark and in crevices; often feeds on the ground and around fallen logs.
There are many races and local variations. Photographs above (taken near Alice Springs) is of rufiventris, known as the "Western Shrike-thrush" with darker grey back and wings and cinnamon-buff rump.
The version found in Queensland (except Cape York), in New South Wales, Victoria and eastern South Australia is race harmonica; males have a pale brown upper back, grey lower back, narrow reddish eye-ring, pale lores in front of eyes, underside grey with scattered pale streaks.
Most races in Australia intergrade and there are insufficient grounds for establishing them as separate species. But the Tasmanian bird has a thin dagger-like bill and may be an exception.
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The Grey Shrike-thrush eats a variety of insects, spiders, lizards, small mammals and nestlings of other birds. They forage at all levels, including along upper branches and in foliage, poking in crevices and leaves; pulling off bark to expose food and poking among litter and under logs. They are sedentary with established pairs holding territories of two to ten hectares; unattached birds, usually the young of the previous year expelled from parental nests, travel more widely. A widespread species found in open forest and woodlands of all types throughout Australia except for rainforest and treeless deserts. But, except in south-eastern Australia, they have retreated into undisturbed bushland.
Breeds mainly in July to February. The nest is bowl-shaped and built of bark strips and coarse grass, lined with fine material; placed in stump-hollows, on broken-off branches, in tree forks, crevices in buildings, eroded creek-banks, rock ledges, thick shrubs, even on the ground.
Three, occasionally four, eggs are laid. White or cream, blotched or spotted with dark olive-brown and grey; oval, about 28 by 20 millimetres. Both parents incubate the eggs for 16 to 18 days.