Going a bit ‘cuckoo’ with the local ‘War of the Cuckoos’

Happy New Year! Yes this is finally a new post for 2010!

I have been having camera and computer problems which is most annoying however I managed to get some photos of recent ‘visitors’ to our neighbourhood. Both these birds are cuckoos – a parasitic bird that does not build its own nest or raise its own young. The female lays its eggs  in the nests of other smaller birds like the Magpie-lark. The young cuckoo then either kicks out the other eggs/baby birds or the smaller young die from starvation as the much bigger cuckoo is first to take all the food. These two species – the Common Koel and Channel billed Cuckoo migrate from the New Guinea region in about September/October and return North about March.

Since before Christmas we have the almost continual call of the Common Koel Eudynamys scolopacea – or ‘stormbird’ in the large figtrees close by. It has been most elusive to photograph (besides the cantakerous camera that I need to send away to get fixed – I am not looking forward to this as you can imagine something that HAS to be photographed will most certainly happen whilst it is away…sigh…) but I managed this afternoon to get some photos.

This is a male Common Koel – they are all black with a distinctive red eye. The second photo shows it making its distinctive call. I have always loved their calls and don’t really mind it going all day and night. My dad tells me they have really lovely soft pink eggs that are speckled. The male Common Koel’s role is to annoy the birds in the area of a nest and when he has distracted the other birds and drawn them away, the female flies in and lays her eggs into the foster parent’s nest.

…he also has some impressive striped tail feathers as you can see…

As well as this we have had a visiting Channel Billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae unlike the lovely storm bird call, the channel billed cuckoo  screeches and their fighting at night has often woken me up. This particular cuckoo came screeching in yesterday dive bombing the Common Koel until it chased it off.

The photos are a little grainy as it was at the top of a huge old fig tree. These birds are very big and impressive with their toucan-like beaks. It must have felt very proud surveying those below – and the much smaller birds around it after it’s victory over the Koel! It then proceeded to preen and intermittently screech seeming most proud of itself!

It also has some lovely tail feathers.

A closer look at a channel billed cuckoo.

5 thoughts on “Going a bit ‘cuckoo’ with the local ‘War of the Cuckoos’

  1. Happy New Year!

    Saw a channel-billed cuckoo the other day, but none since. They’re wonderful looking birds, but like the riflebirds — nice face, shame about the voice!

    • Hi Bronwen – Happy New Year to you too!
      The channel-bills here are VERY vocal and still hanging around making their presence felt – and heard – day and night. We have large fig trees which are fruiting at teh moment so have a variety of birds and bads coming in to feed but the kookaburras – and their young – and the channel-bill are the loudest.

  2. Have a very young Channel-bill in rehab at the moment, just getting permanent plumage. They are such funny birds – real personality and absolute clowns. Hate to be near any other birds, even their own kind.

  3. I’ve had 2 “baby”cuckoos in the back yard for three weeks and their voices get louder every day. Poor currawongs who are the foster parents! Have to put the hose on the “babies” when they wake us up of a morning screeching in the jacaranda tree. The lorrikeets and noisy miners are not impressed as the jacaranda belongs to them.

  4. Hi everyone, I have a couple of crows at my house that have hatched a channel billed cuckoo. It left the nest about 8wks ago and still will not feed itself. The crows are constantly flying back and forth to feed it. They drop the food at its feet but it won’t pick it up itself, it just screams and screams until they pick it up and shove it down it’s throat. I was just wondering if it’s normal for it to be still so dependant on it’s ‘parents’ after so long as the actual baby crows are usually feeding themselves after only a few weeks???? Thank you in advance for any opinions!

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