Pheasant Coucal is a very unique bird with feathers looking like medieval armour or posture taken from a small dinosaur from the Cretaceous era. It has a long tail, short, rounded wings, a black head, neck and underbody with upperparts and wings reddish-brown with black and cream barring. Its black tail is barred orange.
Sexes are similar in plumage, but females are larger than males.
It is a beautiful, proud bird that takes its parenting very seriously unlike other cuckoos. Unlike other cuckoos, they build their own nest and pair for a long time. Both males and females feed and raise the cheeks.
Usually, they hide nests in the thick grass or sugar cane. They make a platform from sticks, grass and rushes lined with leaves and grasses. Usually, the male incubates the eggs and feeds the young and the female helps only n feeding.
The clutch size is normally between 3 and 6 eggs with incubation of 15 days.
Interestingly, Pheasant Coucal prefers to run rather than fly. I may also fly clumsily, searching for cover. It feeds on the ground on large insects, frogs, lizards, eggs and young birds.
Where does Pheasant Coucal live?
Pheasant Coucal is a ground-dwelling cuckoo, and it prefers dense vegetation like grasses, rushes, bracken and sedges. Usually, it can be found in open forests and woodlands, but also around wetlands.
In northern Queensland, it is often found around sugar cane plantations, but also in parks, gardens or along roads or railway lines.
Pheasant Coucal distribution
Pheasant Coucal like warmer climate and lives in Northern and Eastern part of Australia, starting from Exmouth in Western Australia and ending in Newcastle in New South Wales.
It can also be found in New Guinea and East Timor.
This unusual bird has a deep, hollow voice like a typical cuckoo and cannot be mistaken with any other bird. It actually sounds like water glugging from the bottle.
We always had a hard time spot in the wild, until one day it flew next to our house and sat on a nearby tree.
Where spotted: Kimberley (WA), Brisbane (QLD)