Animal Species:Pallid Cuckoo

The Pallid Cuckoo is the most widely distributed of the cuckoos and is found throughout Australia.

Pallid Cuckoo on branch

AD Trounson © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Pallid Cuckoo

Alternative Name/s

Brainfever Bird

Identification

The Pallid Cuckoo is identified by its grey plumage, which is darker on the wings and back, and its broadly barred black and white undertail. The bill is brown, the legs and feet are grey-brown, and there is a bright yellow ring around the eye. No other Australian cuckoo has this colouration. It is a large, slender cuckoo and is somewhat hawk-like in appearance during flight. Young Pallid Cuckoos are mottled with brown and buff above, with a white spot on the nape, and are streaked with grey-brown and white below. As with other species of cuckoo, its call often betrays its presence long before it is seen.

Size range

28 cm to 33 cm

Similar Species

Oriental Cuckoo

Distribution

The Pallid Cuckoo is the most widely distributed of the cuckoos and is found throughout Australia.

Habitat

The Pallid Cuckoo inhabits most open forests and woodlands, as well as cleared and cultivated open country.

Feeding and Diet

The Pallid Cuckoo has a liking for hairy caterpillars, but will take other insects and their larvae. Prey is spotted from low perch and is pounced on, usually on the ground. Some insects are taken from foliage.

Communication

A loud, ascending whistle 'too-too-too..', The call is often repeated incessantly, and gave rise to the name of Brainfever-bird.

Mating and reproduction

The Pallid Cuckoo lays its eggs in the nests of honeyeaters, woodswallows, whistlers and flycatchers. Common host species include the Willie Wagtail, Rhipidura leucophrys and the Hooded Robin, Melanodryas cuculatta. The female cuckoo removes one of the host's eggs and replaces it with one of her own. The cuckoo egg usually closely resembles the host egg, and the unsuspecting host hatches it along with its own. The cuckoo egg usually hatches more quickly and the young cuckoo instinctively forces the other eggs (or chicks) out of the nest. The cuckoo rapidly outgrows its 'foster' parents, who frantically search for sufficient food to satisfy the demanding young bird.

Classification

Species:
pallidus
Genus:
Cuculus
Family:
Cuculidae
Order:
Cuculiformes
Class:
Aves
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  • Strahan, R. (ed) 1994. Cuckoos, Nightbirds and Kingfishers of Australia. Angus and Robertson/Australian Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.


Ondine Evans , Web Researcher/Editor
Last Updated:

Tags pallid cuckoo, birds, biby,