pheasant coucal

breeding coucal

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coucal in flight

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This magnificent bird is a Pheasant Coucal, a long-tailed cuckoo that grows up to 68cm. While spectacular in the air they fly reluctantly as their tails are heavy. In this capture you can see how one of the two hind toes has a long spur-like- toe-nail.

Acknowledgement: Slaters Field Guide to Australian Birds


breeding coucal

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The Pheasant Coucal perched itself in the top foliage of a tall she-oak and seemed intent on spying out the land. No doubt it was looking for a mate as the fresh black and decorative plumage on its tail is a sign breeding season is near.

the elusive coucal

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The Pheasant Coucal is playing hide and seek with me. I can hear it every morning and evening coming from a different direction (like now) – trouble is the sound distorts and echoes around the green expanse of trees that stretches in a arch from the far left to the far right. Its preference for the very tops of trees some way into the reserve or amoungst the foliage also complicates it. So this is my next attempt, it was very late and the light was poor and for once it came closer to the edge of the reserve but just as I was (figuratively) jumping up and down while trying to focus through the greenery a group of young boys on skateboards and bikes came zooming around the corner, by the time I had taken a couple of quick shots they were level with us and he flew off! There is always tomorrow …

Captured at Look At Me Now Headland, Moonee Beach Nature Reserve, north coast NSw.

the pheasant coucal

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In the last few days this Pheasant Coucal has taken up residence in the nearby nature reserve. I spotted it when walking the dogs and it was already some way into the trees. I hurried home switching the dogs for my camera but by the time I got back he was further in the trees and this is the best shot I could manage on full zoom. It does however give you some idea of his beautiful black body and rufous barred wings and tail. It was frustrating but I couldn’t walk too far down the kangaroo trails towards him as I only had sandals on and its snake season.

 P1040666Pheasant Coucals are one of the large cuckoos, those who follow my blog will remember I photographed another large cuckoo, the Channel-billed Cuckoonot long ago in Sydney. They are large birds, very majestic and the Coucal can be up to 68cm long.. the channel comes in slightly smaller at 67cm.

Unlike the Channel-billed Cuckoo that lays its eggs in other bird nests to be raised by the host, the Pheasant Coucals prefer to do their own parenting. When they fly they do so reluctantly as if their heavy tails are too much weight to get airborne and make a loud booming sound like ‘coot, coot, coot, coot’. I have been hearing this one most mornings (very early) and late in the evening but as much as I look I haven’t been able to spot it again.

Captured at Look At Me Now Headland, Moonee Beach Nature Reserve, north coast NSW.

Acknowledgements: Slaters Field Guide to Australian Birds 2nd ed.