General Description

A medium-sized bird with a glossy blue-black head, a small crest, white below from the chin to the undertail, with a blue-black bill surrounded by bristles. The back, wings and tail are darker grey and there may be a slight orange brown tint on the breast. Young birds are duller grey-black above, with the throat and breast washed orange-brown. Body size up to 21 cm.


An extremely mobile and active bird, able to hover while feeding, uttering a rasping or grinding call that gives it its common name: Scissors Grinder. It feeds on insects, as well as other invertebrates such as spiders and centipedes, and usually feeds alone or in pairs. When hovering, it hangs almost vertically in the air with its head and spread tail pointing downwards. It rarely comes to the ground to feed, preferring to 'hawk' for insects from perches in the mid-level of the canopy. It builds a small cup-shaped nest of bark and grass, bound with spider web, camouflaged with pieces of lichen and bark, and placed in an exposed position on a tree branch, often near or over water. Both sexes help to build the nest, incubate the eggs and feed the young.


Eastern Australia.


Open forests and woodlands and is frequently seen in farmland.

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