Cacomantis flabelliformis

General description: 

It is a slender cuckoo and the adult bird is easily identified by a yellow eye ring (slightly greenish in young birds), its generally dark slate-grey back and wings, becoming pale rufous below, with a boldly barred black and white under tail. Younger birds are duller and browner in colour. Juvenile dark brown above with dull rufous streakes, mottled whitish and black below and distinctly barred grey and brown. Voice: A mournful, descending trill. 'peeeeer' also a rising whistle 'p-whee'. Female gives loud 'chireee'.

Conservation status: 

Not Threatened.

Diagnostic description: 

It is a slender cuckoo and the adult bird is easily identified by a yellow eye ring (slightly greenish in young birds), its generally dark slate-grey back and wings, becoming pale rufous below, with a boldly barred black and white under tail. Younger birds are duller and browner in colour. Juvenile dark brown above with dull rufous streakes, mottled whitish and black below and distinctly barred grey and brown. Voice: A mournful, descending trill. 'peeeeer' also a rising whistle 'p-whee'. Female gives loud 'chireee'.

Behaviour: 

Size: 

26 cm, 44 g

Phylogeny: 

Taxonomy:

    Cuculus flabelliformis Latham, 1801, Sydney area, New South Wales. Sometimes placed in Cuculus. Species formerly listed as C. pyrrophanus (or erroneously as C. pyrrhophanus), due to confusion as to which form had been the original model for the painting used as the basis of the name flabelliformis. Five subspecies recognized. (source: Handbook of the Birds of World)
Distribution: 

Subspecies and Distribution:

    * excitus Rothschild & Hartert, 1907 - mountains of New Guinea. * flabelliformis (Latham, 1801) - E Australia from Cape York to SE Australia and Tasmania; also SW Western Australia. * pyrrophanus (Vieillot, 1817) - New Caledonia and Loyalty Is. * schistaceigularis Sharpe, 1900 - Vanuatu. * simus (Peale, 1848) - Fiji.
Habitat: 

They are among the more commonly seen members of the cuckoo family, especially in the favoured habitat of open forests, woodlands and similarly vegetated gardens. Individuals are often seen perched on an exposed branch when calling.

Trophic strategy: 

Enjoys hairy caterpillars in its diet, but will also take a variety of other insects and their larvae. Food is located from an exposed perch and is seized in flight or from the ground. The bird returns to its perch to eat the prey.

Reproduction: 

As with most other species of Australian cuckoos, the Fan-tailed Cuckoo is a brood parasite; laying its eggs in the nests of other species of birds. Host species include flycatchers, fairy-wrens, scrubwrens and thornbills, particularly the Brown Thornbill, Acanthiza pusilla. A single egg is laid in the nest and one of the host's eggs removed. The young cuckoo generally hatches earlier than the host's eggs and proceeds to eject the other eggs or hatchlings. The seemingly unaware foster parents then rear the cuckoo chick. Breeding season: August to December in the east; June to October in the south-west. Clutch size: 1 Incubation: 13 days