The Apostlebird is a medium-sized dark grey bird with a short strong bill, brown wings and black tail. It is normally seen in groups of six to ten birds, and is usually seen on the ground. It belongs to the group of birds known as 'mud-nesters', the Family Corcoracidae, noted for their communal life style and their bowl nests constructed of mud and plant fibres.
The Apostlebird is often found in association with the White-winged Chough, which belongs to the same family and has similar habits (communal living, mud nests, ground-foraging). However the White-winged Chough is quite distinctive, being black with white wing panels visible in flight, as well as having a long curved beak and a bright red eye.
The Apostlebird is found in eastern Australia in inland areas from lower Cape York Peninsula, Queensland to northern Victoria and from Naracoorte to Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia. There is also an isolated population in the Elliott and Katherine areas, Northern Territory.
The Apostlebird is found in open dry forests and woodlands near water. It may also be found in farmlands with trees, as well as along roadsides, in orchards and on golf courses
Sedentary, with some local movements to more open areas in autumn and winter.
The Apostlebird usually eats seeds and vegetable matter, insects and other invertebrates and, sometimes, small vertebrates. In autumn and winter, it will move to more open country, where seeds become the more important part of its diet. The Apostlebird forages on the ground in groups, often in association with the White-winged Chough.
Apostlebirds form a 'breeding unit' of around ten related birds - a dominant male and several females plus immature birds (the previous season's young) that act as helpers. The nest is a large mud bowl, placed on a horizontal branch 3 - 20 m high, and reinforced and lined with grass. All members of a group assist with nest building, as well as feeding of nestlings, while only the adults usually incubate the eggs. More than one female may lay eggs in the same nest. While many eggs may be laid usually only four nestlings will survive to fledge, with numbers possibly restricted by the size of the nest. Two broods may be raised in a season.
Living with us
The Apostlebird can become quite tame around farms, foraging with domestic poultry, and is common around camp sites. It can be seen dust-bathing on roadsides.