Apostlebirds live in small groups and are rarely seen on their own. Their habit of perching in close sitting groups is what has given them their name.
It’s call is a rough, scratchy, discordant: ‘ch-kew ch-kew’; also: nasal ‘git-out’ when disturbed. Bird call recorded by: Marc Anderson
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 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.
The Apostlebird has earned its name because it is highly gregarious, usually seen in groups of up to 30 birds. Early settlers believed that these groups always comprised 12 birds, and likened these to the apostles of Jesus Christ.
They are sedentary, with some local movements to more open areas in autumn and winter.
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.
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 are cooperative breeders. Non-breeding family members assist with the rearing of young birds. Helpers are generally previous seasons young.
The nest is a large mud bowl, placed on a horizontal branch 3-20m 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 (incubation is 18 days). More than one female may lay eggs in the same nest.
While many eggs may be laid usually only four nestlings (nestling period is 18 days), will survive to fledge, with numbers possibly restricted by the size of the nest. Two broods may be raised in a season.
Breeding season is from August to March.