I know we get a lot of birds coming into our back yard, but I never expected a visitor like this.
Meet the Pheasant Coucal
I’m surprised I’ve never seen one of these birds before because, according to The Australian Museum, this unique member of the cuckoo family is found from the Pilbara in Western Australia, across the top of our country and down the east coast to south-eastern New South Wales. It can also be found in New Guinea and East Timor.
– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –
We were just finishing our breakfast when Dean said, “Quick, look at that bird in the back yard!”
I grabbed my camera and walked into our bedroom, making very little noise, and hoping it was still there. Thankfully it was and, because I snapped these photos from inside the house, I was pleasantly surprised at how clear the images turned out. Perhaps this is a lovely advantage to having clean windows 🙂
It strutted around our garden for a little while and I kept snapping as it did so.
A little ‘Googling’ reveals this is the plumage of a Pheasant Coucal out of breeding season. (Their breeding season is from September to March.)
When it’s dress in its breeding plumage, it has a black head, neck and underbody with the upperparts and wings reddish-brown with black and cream barring and the black tail is also barred orange.
Out of breeding, the head and back return to this reddish-chestnut colour and its underparts are cinnamon brown, all streaked boldly white.
Males and females have very similar plumage, but the famales are larger than the males.
When it was finished having a look around the garden it jumped into one of our smaller Grevilleas and then down towards the back of the garden bed, making me think it might be making a nest in there.
Pheasant Coucals form lasting pairs (how romantic) and, unlike other Australian cuckoos, they are not a nest parasite and build their own nests and raise their young themselves. The nest is usually hidden in thick grass or sugar cane or weedy thickets. I think the understory of my garden might be considered a ‘weedy thicket’.
When disturbed, coucals run rather than fly, or fly rather clumsily, plunging for cover so I’ve decided not to disturb the area of the garden it went into because I think it would be delightful to have Mr & Mrs Pheasant Coucal rearing their young in a protected area in our back yard.
I’ll have to keep an eye out for another visit from this incredible bird.