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Fan-tailed Cuckoo - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Ken Doy
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, June 2018

Alternative names: Fan-tailed Brush Cuckoo; Ash-coloured Cuckoo

Cacomantis flabelliformis

Cuculus flabelliformis


Photo © by Neil
Sydney, Australia, February 2004

26cm (10¼ in)

  • Slate-grey upperparts
  • Wedge-shaped tail, notched white on outer webs
  • Grey throat
  • Buff to rufous breast
  • Whitish bars on undertail
  • Yellow eye-ring
  • Black bill
  • Olive-yellow feet


  • excitus is much darker with greyish black upperparts and dusky chestnut underparts
  • pyrrophanus has rich chestnut underparts and a grey-brown eye-ring
  • schista­ceigularis has grey on throat and upper breast and is dark chestnut below
  • simus is smaller and has also a melanistic morph


Eastern Australia, from Queensland to South Australia. South-western Western Australia and Tasmania. The Tasmanian population migrate to the Australian mainland when not breeding.
Also occurs in New Caledonia, New Guinea and Fiji.
Common in most of its range.



There are 5 subspecies[1]:

  • C. f. excitus:
  • C. f. flabelliformis:
  • C. f. pyrrophanus:
  • C. f. schistaceigularis:
  • Vanuatu
  • C. f. simus:


Open forest, native bushland, woodland and wooded gardens.


Calls from an exposed perch.


Mainly caterpillars and insects, such as centipedes and spiders, for which they forage in the foliage. The also hawk for flying moths and ants.


A brood parasite, many species are chosen to act as the host, including fairy-wrens, scrubwrens, and flycatchers, a favourite is Brown Thornbill.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2012. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to October 2012. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. Birds in Backyards
  3. Oz Animals.com
  4. Australian Museum online
  5. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved June 2018)

Recommended Citation

External Links