Family Cuckooshrikes (Campephagidae)

Least Concern

Slender-billed Cicadabird (Edolisoma tenuirostre)


French: Échenilleur cigale German: Dünnschnabel-Raupenfänger Spanish: Oruguero picofino
Other common names: Common Cicadabird

Gracaulus [sic] tenuirostris


, 1831,

New South Wales, Australia


Hitherto treated as a species that embraced many more taxa: previous treatments (including HBW) accepting species rank for E. sula, E. dohertyi, E. dispar and E. salomonis left an unsatisfactory mosaic arrangement of taxa in need of further revision, but situation is one of riddling complexity which molecular research#R has only partially resolved (and partially added to). New arrangement outlined here attempts a plausible and consistent use of available evidence, but perhaps no more satisfactory, involving separation mainly of insular N taxa (typically with darker grey males and rufous, unbarred females) into eight further species: Micronesian forms E. monacha, E. nesiotis and E. insperatum, along with Wallacean E. obiense and E. grayi, Geelvink Bay E. meyerii, and Melanesian E. remotum and E. rostratum. Races salvadorii and talautense of E. morio sometimes treated as races of present species, for no clear reason. Mainland New Guinea race muellerii apparently indistinguishable from migratory Australian nominate race, leading to suggestion that all or most populations of former are migrants from Australia and that muellerii should be considered synonymous with nominate#R; further study needed. Racial identity of birds on Lembata and of those on Seram Laut uncertain, with former tentatively included in timoriense and latter in amboinense; similarly, birds in NE Australia (Cape York Peninsula) presumed to belong with melvillense. Races may form two groups: edithae, pererratum, emancipatum, kalaotuae and timoriense appear to have denser barring, whiter underparts and greyer upperparts. Twelve subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. t. edithae Stresemann, 1932 – S Sulawesi (known only from type locality at Borong, near Maros).
  • E. t. pererratum E. J. O. Hartert, 1917 – Tukangbesi Is (Kaledupa, Tomea), off SE Sulawesi.
  • E. t. emancipatum#R E. J. O. Hartert, 1896 – Tanahjampea I (between Sulawesi and Flores).
  • E. t. kalaotuae Meise, 1929 – Kalaotoa (N of Flores).
  • E. t. timoriense Sharpe, 1878 – Lesser Sundas (Lembata, Alor#R, Timor).
  • E. t. amboinense (Hartlaub, 1865) – S Moluccas (Buru, Ambon, Seram, Seram Laut Is).
  • E. t. nehrkorni Salvadori, 1890 – Waigeo I, off W New Guinea.
  • E. t. muellerii Salvadori, 1876 – West Papuan Is (Kofiau, Misool), New Guinea (except S), D’Entrecasteaux Archipelago and Woodlark I.
  • E. t. aruense Sharpe, 1878 – Aru Is and coastal SW New Guinea (E to Fly R and Daru I).
  • E. t. tagulanum E. J. O. Hartert, 1898 – Louisiade Archipelago (Misima I, Tagula I).
  • E. t. melvillense (Mathews, 1912) – N Australia from Melville I and Kimberley E to Arnhem Land, also NE Queensland (Cape York Peninsula).
  • E. t. tenuirostre (Jardine, 1831) – E Australia from E Queensland (S of Cape York Peninsula) S to E New South Wales and E Victoria (Melbourne); non-breeding N to SE New Guinea (where possibly also a resident population).
  • Descriptive notes

    24–27 cm; 50·5–76 g. A smallish, slender species with relatively long and thin bill. Male nominate race is predominantly dark slaty grey; lores, cheeks and... read more


    In Australia and S New Guinea has staccato buzzing “kree”, repeated 8–35 or more... read more


    Tropical and temperate forests, including rainforest, monsoon forest, deciduous vine forest and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Eats mainly insects, including caterpillars (Lepidoptera), adult and larval beetles (Coleoptera), grasshoppers (Tettigoniidae, Acrididae),... read more


    Breeds Sept–Mar/Apr in Australia; nest at unknown stage on Timor in early Dec (timoriense). Nest built by both sexes, a very... read more


    Resident in most of range. In E Australia, S part of population migratory, moving S in Aug–... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Uncommon to fairly common. Generally local and uncommon in Australia, and now only a vagrant at S limit of range (Melbourne area),... read more

    Recommended citation

    Taylor, B. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Slender-billed Cicadabird (Edolisoma tenuirostre). 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 17 February 2020).