Channel-billed Cuckoo

Scythrops novaehollandiae

Even though the Channel-billed Cuckoo only visits northern and eastern Australia from around August to March I’m surprised not to have taken note of it earlier. It’s a distinctive looking bird, quite large with a huge beak and red eyes. In flight it looks sleek and almost hawk like. The other birds don’t take a liking to it ( and for good reason! ) and can be seen chasing and harassing it.

Channel-billed Cuckoo sitting in a tree in the front yard. Wouldn’t want to get pecked by that!

As well as their distinctive appearance Channel-billed Cuckoos have an unmistakable screeching call. Commonly heard in the early morning and evening they sometimes go off in the middle of the night, I’ve been woken a few times.

Channel-billed Cuckoos are brood parasites which means they lay their eggs in the ready made nests of other birds. The Cuckoos don’t hang around and leave it up to the host parents to feed and raise their young along with their own chicks. Sadly for the host family the strength and aggressiveness of the Cuckoo means that the host young are out competed for food and most often do not survive. No wonder the local birds don’t take a liking to them!

They are large birds with a wingspan of up to a meter. You start to get an idea of their size when they spread their wings

I’d like to get a photo of one in flight, I’ll post an update if I do.

Sources and further info

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