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.
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!
I’d like to get a photo of one in flight, I’ll post an update if I do.
Grey Goshawks are a frequent visitor to the area, up until now I’ve not been able to identify or get a good photo of one. Last week I heard the sound of a screeching flock of cockatoos off in the distance, as they got closer the sound got louder. They were swooping and swerving making a huge racket, in front of them was a hawk! It looked like they were chasing it away! A few days later I spotted it sitting in a tree out the back and managed to get these photos.
Grey Goshawks are a medium size bird of prey, local ones have a grey back and upper wings, with a white belly. They have large yellow talons and a yellow, black tipped hooked beak. They prey on mammals like rabbits, possums and bats, also reptiles and insects. Their most common prey is other birds, no wonder the cockies were chasing it away.
They’re back, and they still have an appetite for destruction! Every year about this time the black cockies visit for a day or two, tear up the Banksia trees in our yard then leave.
Sulphur Crested Cockies are here in abundance year round, Black Cockies only visit for a few days per year, sometimes I miss them altogether. Yellow tailed black cockatoos are larger than their sulphur crested cousins, they have a louder and more piercing shriek too. A few days before I saw the black cockies this year I heard a chilling shriek in the valley after dark, for a moment I thought it sounded like a person in distress, but I figured it was more animal like. After I saw the Cockies I now think that’s what it was.
After the big storms a few weeks ago we had another wet weekend. It didn’t stop us from getting outside though, the two boys agreed to brave the leeches for a walk down to the river to see the flood damage and see what birds we could spot.
The creeks were running high but still crossable, it was clear from the debris and flow patterns how high the water had been.
Bird wise it was pretty quiet, but near the river just past Murrumba waterfall a Fan-tailed cuckoo flew overhead from one tree to another. Yet again I couldn’t identify it until I got back and studied the photo, hopefully I’ll get it next time.
Fan-tailed cuckoo’s are a common bird found all down the east coast of Australia, south and all the way through to southern west Australia. They are also found on other nearby Pacific islands of New Caledonia, New Guinea, Fiji, New Zealand.
They are a medium sized bird with a slate grey head, wings and back, it’s breast is a lighter grey, tail is horizontally striped with black and white. A clear identifier of the Fan-tailed cuckoo is the yellow ring around its eyes.
Cuckoos have an interesting and brutal way of child rearing. The cuckoo mother lays it’s eggs in the nests of other species of birds. It ejects one of the existing eggs then leaves. The cuckoo eggs often hatch first and the chick then proceeds to push the other eggs out of the nest. The presumably unsuspecting host bird then raises the cuckoo chick as it’s own! What a bastard!