Cuckoos

These are renowned for laying their eggs in the nests of other birds, leaving the unsuspecting hosts to incubate the eggs and raise the young cuckoo.Of the Australian species, only the coucals build nests and raise their own young, a behaviour actually shared by most of the world’s cuckoos. No endemic species of this family occur in Australia. Of the 17 species that have been recorded here, three species are known to breed only in Australia, all parasitising the nests of other bird species.

Scientific name: Cuculidae (family)

Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo

Cacomantis castaneiventris The Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo is dark grey above and bright chestnut below, with inconspicuous narrow white barring on the undertail. The eyering and feet are yellow. Younger birds are brownish below and grey-brown above, with a rufous rump. Within Australia it occurs within Cape York Peninsula, Qld, where it overlaps with the somewhat similar Fan-tailed Cuckoo C. flabelliformis...

Common Koel

In September each year, the Common Koel arrives from India and New Guinea.  Light sleepers are immediately aware of its presence due to its habit of calling during the night, often from a perch adjacent a bedroom window.  The call is an incessant “ko-el, ko-el, ko-el” which is repeated in a rising pitch.  The call is also made during the day.  The Common Koel is a member of the cuckoo family.  The male...

Fan-tailed Cuckoo

Cacomantis flabelliformis Throughout eastern Australia and south-western Western Australia and Tasmania, the descending mournful trill of the Fan-tailed Cuckoo is a familiar sound, particularly during the breeding season, which is between August and December in the east, and June to October in the west. Host species include flycatchers, fairy-wrens, scrubwrens and thornbills, particularly the...

Pallid Cuckoo

This large cuckoo, is almost hawk-like in appearance.  It is found in most open wooded areas and open country throughout Australia, where it is the most common and widely distributed of the cuckoos.  It is instantly identified by its grey plumage, and broadly barred black and white undertail.  No other Australian cuckoo has this colouration.  Younger birds are more brown and buff on the back and win...

Pheasant Coucal

The Pheasant Coucal ranges through northern and eastern Australia.  When breeding, the plumage the head, neck and underparts is black, with brown wings, back and tail.  Outside of this time the head and neck are straw-coloured, with paler feather shafts.  The call is also an unmistakable “oop-oop-oop-oop-oop...”, descending in the middle and then rising at the end. The Pheasant Coucal may breed ...