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13

Fan-tailed Cuckoo

(Cacomantis [Cuculus] flabelliformis)
Alternate name(s): "Ash-coloured Cuckoo", "Ash-tailed Cuckoo", "Stormbird*"
Aboriginal name(s): "doolar" (SW WA)

Size: 25-27 cm
Weight: 58 g (average)

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Fan-tailed Cuckoo at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

ADULT

MALE

Near-lateral view of a male Fan-tailed Cuckoo in shady undergrowth; note the rich rufous colour, which makes it very similar to a Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, while Brush Cuckoos are much paler
[Near Maules Creek, NSW, October 2006]

Male Fan-tailed Cuckoo with the sunlight falling in from behind; this individual is very brownish-orange again

FEMALE

Lateral view of a female Fan-tailed Cuckoo in bright sunlight
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2009]

Near-dorsal view of a female Fan-tailed Cuckoo in bright sunlight
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2009]

Birds with known sex shown above were identified by their calls, not by their outward appearance.

Frontal/ventral view of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo (of unknown sex) (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Kinkuna section, Burrum Coast NP, near Bundaberg, QLD, October 2015]

Near-frontal view of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2009]

Near-lateral view of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo (photo courtesy of B. Kinross)
[Beachmere, QLD, September 2015]

Lateral view of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo in dense vegetation (photo courtesy of C. Charles)
[Near Coolum, QLD, January 2013]

Lateral view of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Kinkuna section, Burrum Coast NP, near Bundaberg, QLD, October 2015]

Lateral view of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Kinkuna section, Burrum Coast NP, near Bundaberg, QLD, October 2015]

Near-dorsal view of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2009]

Close-up dorsal view of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo hiding in a bottlebrush tree
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, January 2006]

Dorsal view of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Kinkuna section, Burrum Coast NP, near Bundaberg, QLD, October 2015]

Close-up view of a rescued Fan-tailed Cuckoo (photo courtesy of K. Matchett)
[Ettalong Beach, NSW, May 2013]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Close-up near-frontal view of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo; its mottled breast plumage may indicate that this is a sub-adult bird (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)
[Terry Hie Hie, NSW, March 2014]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Migratory/dispersive Elementary unit: Solitary/pair

Like basically all cuckoos, Fan-tailed Cuckoos host on somewhat smaller birds. An example is shown below.

Fan-tailed Cuckoos are the only parasitic cuckoos in Australia that can stay in the cooler southern part of the continent during the southern winter. All others will migrate to the North.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo and a potential host, a New Holland Honeyeater
[Wybung Head, Munmorah SCA, NSW, June 2009]

Fan-tailed Cuckoos often sit in shady places, making it hard to find them, although they may be calling continuously
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, September 2012]

Food, Diet

Like most other small cuckoos, Fan-tailed Cuckoos are insect hunters. They take their prey from foliage and from the ground.

Lateral view of a Fan-tailed Cuckoos with its prey, a caterpillar
[Broadwater NP, NSW, May 2014]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

A Fan-tailed Cuckoo's call for a mate can carry over more than half a kilometre.

fantail_20140919_7.mp3 (NW NSW) Contact calls (male) © MD
fantail_20140919_8.mp3 (NW NSW) Contact calls (male) © MD
fantail_art_20131125.mp3 (SE QLD) Contact calls (male) © ART
fantail_art_20131125_2.mp3 (SE QLD) Contact calls (male) © ART
fantail_20150905.mp3 (SE QLD) ? (male) © MD
fantail_20150618.mp3 (NW NSW) Contact call (female) © MD
fantail_20150620.mp3 (NW NSW) Q&As (males) © MD
fantail_20140919.mp3 (NW NSW) Various © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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