Family Cuculidae

Cuckoos are more likely to be observed in Canberra’s nature reserves, woodlands and forests than in suburban gardens. Their distinctive and persistent calling heralds spring, when they are seen singly or calling to a mate. They are graceful birds with long tails, and with two toes facing forwards and two facing backwards.

The Pallid and Fan-tailed cuckoos are frequently recorded in the Garden Bird Survey, and these and the other cuckoos recorded are summer migrants. Eastern Koels are more likely to be observed in suburbs than surrounding bushland because their diet is mostly fruit. Their loud calls, often at night, draw attention. There were few observations of Eastern Koels in the first 17 years of the survey, but there appears to have been an increase in their numbers in recent years, with over 20 records for each of the last three years of the survey. The Brush Cuckoo has been recorded infrequently (27 records).

All of these cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests  of other birds. More than 100 species of birds  are known to host the cuckoos’ eggs and  fledglings. Around Canberra, honeyeaters, scrubwrens, thornbills, fairy-wrens, and robins are generally foster parents.

A White-plumed Honeyeater feeds its Pallid Cuckoo chick