The pheasant coucal isn't a pheasant at all but a cuckoo. Photo: Allan Briggs
The pheasant coucal isn't a pheasant at all but a cuckoo. Photo: Allan Briggs

Kooky coucal: Not a pheasant but a cuckoo

The pheasant part of the name pheasant coucal is a bit misleading as it is not a pheasant at all it is just 'pheasant-like'.

It is the only Australian cuckoo to build its own nest and does not lay its eggs in other birds' nests.

It has a long tail and short rounded wings.

In its breeding plumage, it has a black head, neck and under body with the upperparts and wings reddish-brown with black and cream barring and the black tail is barred orange.

Out of breeding, the head and back return to a reddish chestnut colour and the underparts are cinnamon brown and streaked boldly white.

The eye is red. Sexes are similar in plumage, but females are larger than males.

They have some rather odd behaviour and when disturbed they will climb to the top of a tree and then fly to a nearby tree.

If they are disturbed on the ground they will run rather than fly, or fly clumsily, plunging into cover.

 

 

They also have a habit of flying very low across a road which is when, unfortunately, many of them are killed by cars.

They form lasting pairs and the nest is usually hidden in thick grass or sugar cane or in weedy thickets and is a platform of sticks, grass or rushes, lined with leaves and grasses.

The male usually incubates the eggs and feeds the young, with the female helping with feeding.

They have a loud booming call that echoes through the forest and is heard mostly during the breeding season in early summer.

Good places to see them around Bundaberg are at the Botanic Gardens, Baldwin Swamp and Burnett Heads.

Allan Briggs is the secretary of BirdLife Capricornia. Contact him with your bird questions at abriggs@irock.com.au



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