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13

Brush Cuckoo

(Cacomantis variolosus)
Alternate name(s): "Square-tailed Cuckoo"
Size: 22-26 cm
Weight: 30-50 g

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 Brush Cuckoo at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "variolosus"

ADULT

MALE

Close-up near-frontal/ventral view of a male Brush Cuckoo (photo courtesy of J. Boettcher, FNQ Nature Tours)
[Mareeba, QLD, November 2022]

Lateral view of a male Brush Cuckoo issuing its call (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, October 2017]

FEMALE

Unbarred morphology

Near-frontal view of a female(?) Brush Cuckoo looking towards the observer (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Tyto Wetlands, Ingham, QLD, August 2023]

Near-frontal view of a female(?) Brush Cuckoo looking sideways (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Tyto Wetlands, Ingham, QLD, August 2023]

Near-frontal view of a female(?) Brush Cuckoo looking sideways (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Anstead Reserve, Anstead, QLD, November 2018]

Near-lateral view of a female(?) Brush Cuckoo (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, December 2018]

Near-lateral view of a female(?) Brush Cuckoo; this bird was observed calling strongly in December, when other cuckoos had fallen silent (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, December 2018]

Near-lateral view of a female Brush Cuckoo; this bird was recorded issuing its calls
[Killarney SCA, NSW, February 2024]

Lateral view of a female Brush Cuckoo; this bird was recorded issuing its calls
[Killarney SCA, NSW, February 2024]

Lateral view of a female(?) Brush Cuckoo (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Anstead Reserve, Anstead, QLD, November 2018]

Near-dorsal view of a female(?) Brush Cuckoo (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Anstead Reserve, Anstead, QLD, November 2018]

Barred morphology

Dorsal view of a female Brush Cuckoo (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Old Coach Road, South Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, October 2014]

Rufous morphology

Near-lateral view of a female Brush Cuckoo - note the barred underparts and the rufous-edged secondaries
(photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Leanyer Swamp, Darwin, NT, November 2018]

Near-lateral view of a female Brush Cuckoo - note the barred underparts and the rufous-edged secondaries
(photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Leanyer Swamp, Darwin, NT, November 2018]

Close-up lateral view of a female Brush Cuckoo (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Tyto Wetlands, Ingham, QLD, August 2023]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Near-frontal view of an immature Brush Cuckoo (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, December 2018]

Near-frontal view of a juvenile Brush Cuckoo (photo courtesy of R. Russell)
[Mount Molloy, QLD, March 2013]

Lateral view of a juvenile Brush Cuckoo (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, December 2013]

Lateral view of a juvenile Brush Cuckoo (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Upper Little River Road, North Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, April 2014]

Lateral view of a immature Brush Cuckoo, different posture (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Upper Little River Road, North Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, April 2014]

Near-frontal view of a juvenile Brush Cuckoo (photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy)
[Near Townsville, QLD, September 2012]

Lateral view of a juvenile Brush Cuckoo (photo courtesy of R. Russell)
[Mount Molloy, QLD, March 2008]

Lateral view of a juvenile Brush Cuckoo (photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy)
[Near Townsville, QLD, September 2012]

This dependent Brush Cuckoo chick was seen being fed by a pair of White-throated Honeyeaters
(photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy)
[Near Townsville, QLD, September 2012]

As young cuckoos do, this Brush Cuckoo chick outgrew its parents, a pair of White-throated Honeyeaters, in no time
(photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy)
[Near Townsville, QLD, September 2012]

Race "dumetorum"

ADULT

FEMALE

Close-up near-frontal view of a Brush Cuckoo; note the characteristic, inconspicuous grey eye-ring - the almost invisible barring on the front indicates that this is the so-called "unbarred" morphology of a female
(photo courtesy of J. Boettcher, FNQ Nature Tours)
[Adels Grove, near Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) NP, QLD, December 2020]

Close-up near-lateral view of a Brush Cuckoo looking towards the observer
(photo courtesy of J. Boettcher, FNQ Nature Tours)
[Adels Grove, near Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) NP, QLD, December 2020]

Lateral view of a female Brush Cuckoo
[East Point, Darwin, NT, August 2014]

Sex unknown

Near-dorsal view of a Brush Cuckoo (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Leanyer Swamp, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: ? Mobility: Migratory Elementary unit: Solitary

Food, Diet

Like most other cuckoos, Brush Cuckoos are insect hunters. They take their prey from foliage.

Near-lateral view of an immature female Brush Cuckoo - note the barred underparts and the rufous-edged secondaries - with its prey, a caterpillar (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Leanyer Swamp, Darwin, NT, November 2018]

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.

brcuck_20140419.mp3 variolosus
(NW NSW)
Contact calls (male) © MD
brcuck_20240216_2.m4a variolosus
(NW NSW)
Contact calls (female) © MD
brcuck_20240120.m4a variolosus
(NW NSW)
Contact calls (female) © MD
brcuck_20181215.m4a variolosus
(NW NSW)
Contact calls (female) © MD
brcuck_20240216_3.m4a variolosus
(NW NSW)
Contact calls (female; long sequence) © MD
brcuck_20240216_4.m4a variolosus
(W NSW)
Male (getting excited) © MD
brcuck_20151202.mp3 variolosus
(W NSW)
Male (excited; trills are artefacts) © MD
brcuck_20211115.m4a variolosus
(W NSW)
Various (male); (+ Sulphur-crested Cockatoo & Striped Honeyeater) © MD
brcuck_20221115.mp3 variolosus
(NW NSW)
Various (male) © MD
brcuck_20221115_2.mp3 variolosus
(NW NSW)
? (male) © MD
 
brcuck_pb_20201008.m4a dumetorum
(Top End, NT)
Males Q&A (competing?) © PB
brcuck_pb_20180619.m4a dumetorum
(Top End, NT)
Female (2x) + male © PB
brcuck_20140816.mp3 dumetorum
(Darwin, NT)
(Partial) contact call (female) © MD

More Brush Cuckoo sound recordings are available at xeno-canto.org .

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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