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Channel-billed Cuckoo - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Ken Doy
Minnippi Parklands, Tingalpa, Brisbane, Queensland, November 2017
Scythrops novaehollandiae


Photo © by Hans&Judy Beste
Taromeo, S.E. Queensland, December 2018

60 cm (23¾ in); an atypical, very large cuckoo.

  • Pale grey head, back and underparts
  • Black spots on back
  • Dark grey wings
  • Tail
    • Barred undertail
    • Black band
    • White tip
  • Red skin around eye
  • Grey, large, curved bill with straw coloured tip
  • Black legs and feet

Female: paler, more barred underneath, smaller bill
Juvenile: buff plumage, pink bill


When flying, shows pointed wingtips, hawk-like flight (often high) and looks like a flying cross.


Indonesia, New Guinea, and Australia; southern populations migratory (going north in winter).


Photo © by aussietrev
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia


Three subspecies recognized[1]:

  • S. n. fordi in Sulawesi and the Banggai, Sula, and Tukangbesi Islands
  • S. n. schoddei in Bismarck Archipelago
  • S. n. novaehollandiae breeds northern and eastern Australia; migrates to New Guinea, Lesser Sundas, and Moluccas


Moist lowland forests and mangrove forests and forest edges. Open woodland, bushland, beaches, golf courses, wetlands, suburban gardens.



The diet includes ripe fruit (particularly figs), beetles, stick insects, butterflies, grasshoppers, the eggs and young of birds.


Photo © by Hans&Judy Beste
Emu Creek, Benarkin, Queensland, November 2018

They are brood parasites; several eggs can be laid in a nest, sometimes by different females. The eggs are red-brown or yellow-brown or dull white, with darker brown splotches. Hosts include the Australian Magpie, Gymnorhina tibicen, the Pied Currawong, Strepera graculina and members of the crow family (Corvidae).


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved January 2016)
  4. BF Member observations

Recommended Citation

External Links

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