Friday, February 15, 2013

Cuckoos and other cheats

Spring and summer are the seasons for cuckoos in the Wet Tropics and Daintree, many of which are known to call incessantly, and most of which parasitise other birds nests.
The smallest, the Little Bronze-Cuckoo, breeds in this region and often uses the hanging nests of the Large-billed Gerygone or Fairy Gerygone to lay their eggs. The newly hatched chick disposes of the birds own eggs, allowing the poor, hapless (much smaller) 'parents' to feed it and it alone.

Little Bronze-Cuckoo (S.Isoe)
Other cuckoos in the Daintree region over the season include Brush Cuckoo (which calls incessantly), Channel-billed Cuckoo (Australia's largest cuckoo)and Australian Koel. Closely related, but not a brood parasite, is the rather clumsy but beautiful Pheasant Coucal.

Pheasant Coucal (Fred Forsell)
Large numbers of very noisy Channel-billed Cuckoos are about at present, which plenty of rainforest figs providing their necessary food.
The "wet season" is a fabulous time to be doing some Daintree birdwatching!