Through spring and summer I regularly hear Fan-tailed Cuckoos calling: described as a mournful descending trill. Along one of the paths to the Moorooduc quarry a pair flew down to lower branches and started calling.
In the background you can also hear a Striated Pardalote, a Grey Fantail and a Grey Shrikethrush.
I dont often get a chance to photograph these shy birds as they move through the upper and mid tree canopy looking for hairy caterpillars and other insects.
I have been hearing quite a few Cuckoos now that the smaller birds are nest building and laying eggs. I found the ones below in the southern part of the Green’s Bush via their calling. They have arrived from the northern warmer climates and are now ready to breed and lay eggs. The fan-tailed cuckoo will lay a single egg in the smaller bush bird’s nests after removing a host’s egg. It targets Thornbills, Scrubwrens and Fairy-wrens. The Shining Bronze-cuckoo also lays its eggs in the domed nests of Thornbills as well as the open nests of honeyeaters and robins
Fan-tail Cuckoo, Green’s Bush (southern section), Vict
With a month still to go of winter, I am already seeing signs of the coming spring and breeding season at Green’s Bush on the Mornington Peninsula. Each time I stay down the coast I visit one of my favourite spots and see what has changed or who is stopping by. This morning I saw good signs of an early spring – Australian Wood ducks flying around inside the forest with several landing on branches and looking into tree hollows for suitable nest-sites. These strange ducks nest in hollows in trees near water very early in the breeding season. I also found a Fan-tailed cuckoo exploring for potential nesting targets along a ridge line above a rainforest creek. It seemed to be following a mixed feeding flock of thornbills and fantails. I usually find the Fan-tailed cuckoo buy its very distinctive call but this one was very quiet and stayed above the foraging thornbills. I saw it several times as I moved along the trail. (another thought is that it is last season’s chick and it is still following its adopted parents hoping for a free feed – I will have to do some research).
Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Greens Bush, Mornington Peninsula National Park, Vic
Mallacoota is surrounded by the Croajingolong National Park wilderness. The dry forests and pockets of rainforest have many species of small birds. It is often a challenge to find them in the heat and humidity of summer but walking quietly in the morning can be rewarding. I am often surprised by their vibrant colours but when facing in a certain direction they can be invisible and difficult to see.
While walking part of the 252km Great South West Walk, in the Lower Glenelg National Park near the South Australian border, I found a Fan-tailed Cuckoo perched on a branch just off the track. I had stopped to watch a few kayakers work their way up the river and the cuckoo made it distinctive call right beside me.
Glenelg River, Lower Glenelg National Park, Victoria
Great South West Walk, Glenelg River, Lower Glenelg National Park, Victoria,
Kayakers, Glenelg River, Lower Glenelg National Park, Victoria
Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Lower Glenelg National Park, Victoria
At this time of year one of the predominate sounds of the woodlands behind the Australia Gardens at the Cranbourne Botanical Gardens comes from the White Eared Honeyeater. It has a variety of distinctive calls and can be quite photogenic when it stays still long enough. It makes a low level, deep, thick sided bowl type nest and lines it with animal fur and hair. We found the Honeyeater below collecting spider webs for its nest.
White Eared Honeyeater, Cranbourne Botanical Gardens
White Eared Honeyeater collecting spider webs for nesting material
With so many Honeyeaters it is little wonder that we also heard and saw Fan Tailed Cuckoos. The nests of White Eared Honeyeaters are parasitised by Fan Tailed Cuckoos.