Channel-billed Cuckoo fending off Australian Miners

The call of the Channel-billed Cuckoo announces that spring has arrived. These large, ugly, yet splendid birds arrive in Eastern Australia in early spring every year, returning from their seasonal migration to Indonesia and New Guinea.

They’re the largest cuckoos in the world, at a length of around 60 cm and a wingspan of 1 metre. Yet, despite their size, they’re cowed by the little Australian Miner (length 25 cm, wingspan 40 cm). To those who know Australian birds, this isn’t surprising. The Miner, also known as the Noisy Miner, is aggressive and fearless, attacking birds and animals far larger than itself.

In this video you can hear the pesky Australian Miners chirping and heckling, and the cuckoo hissing and groaning in response:

This video shows a couple of Noisy Miners dive-bombing the cuckoo:

Here’s the cuckoo in a moment of quiet contemplation. Note the red eyes and the large, curved beak:

Channel-billed Cuckoo

A view of the cuckoo from behind, surrounded by gum tree flowers:

Channel-billed Cuckoo

Common name: Channel-billed Cuckoo

Scientific name: Scythrops novaehollandiae

Approximate length: 58-65 cm

Date spotted: 8 October 2016

Season: Spring

Location: Manly Dam National Park, New South Wales, Australia

Latitude/longitude: 33°46’59.1″S 151°15’09.5″E


About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 2016/10/08, in Birds, Cuckoo and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. An unusual looking bird, I’ve never seen one of these cuckoos. And those pesky noisy miners!! Even though they are a native bird, they are such bullies. I’ve seen them pick on the kookaburras and the currawongs here, often in groups and not only dive bombing the poor bird on its branch but fly after them as well! The only bird I’ve seen them avoid is the magpie.

  2. Hallo Sue
    Thanks for dropping by! The cuckoo has a little of the aspect of something in a horror movie, but it’s beautiful in its wild, primitive fierceness.

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