Family Woodswallows and Butcherbirds (Artamidae)

Least Concern

Black Butcherbird (Melloria quoyi)


French: Cassican des mangroves German: Mangrovekrähenstar Spanish: Verdugo negro

Barita Quoyi

Lesson and Garnot

, 1827,

Dorey (= Manokwari), Vogelkop, north-west New Guinea


Race jardini intergrades with rufescens in region of Endeavour R (NE Queensland). Races form two groups, or “cryptic species”, apparently differing morphologically only in bill structure, N group having thick bill and S group slender bill; recent genetic analysis#R apparently unable to include race alecto#R, but earlier published data#R indicate alecto is relatively thick-billed and thus probably belongs in N group. In addition, within New Guinea range, birds in W apparently differ vocally from those in C & E#R; study needed. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. q. quoyi (Lesson & Garnot, 1827) – New Guinea Black Butcherbird – West Papuan Is (Waigeo, Salawati and Misool), Yapen I (in Geelvink Bay) and mainland New Guinea (except Trans-Fly).
  • M. q. alecto (Schodde & Mason, 1999) – SC New Guinea (Trans-Fly region from Princess Marianne Strait E to Daru I), Aru Is, and islands in N Torres Strait (Boigu and Saibai).
  • M. q. spaldingi (Masters, 1878) – Australian Black Butcherbird – N Western Australia (Cambridge Gulf) E along coast, including Tiwi Is (Bathurst I and Melville I), to coastal Arnhem Land (to Blue Mud Bay, in Gulf of Carpentaria).
  • M. q. jardini (Mathews, 1912) – coastal Cape York Peninsula S to Mitchell R in W and to Cooktown in E.
  • M. q. rufescens (De Vis, 1883) – NE coastal Queensland from Cooktown area S to N Broad Sound (S of Mackay), with gap at Burdekin R.
  • Descriptive notes

    33–44 cm; 148–196 g (races unspecified), 180–220 g (spaldingi). Large, all-dark butcherbird with massive hook-tipped bill. Nominate race is black,... read more


    Repertoire not well known; regional variation reported, but not well characterized. Vocalizations... read more


    Nominate race occurs in most forest types and plantations in lowlands and hills, to c. 1300 m. In S... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates, mainly insects; also small vertebrates, e.g. small lizards and snakes, frogs, small mammals and birds (including nestlings... read more


    Little known. Laying in middle to late dry season Aug to early Jan (mainly Sept–Oct) in New Guinea; eggs mainly Sept–Jan (... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common and widespread in much of New Guinea; fairly common in Australia. Reported density of 3 birds/10 ha in rainforest near Port Moresby, in SE New... read more

    Recommended citation

    Russell, E. & Rowley, I. (2020). Black Butcherbird (Melloria quoyi). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 January 2020).