Re: Shining B-Cuckoo behaviour

To: Robert Quinan <>
Subject: Re: Shining B-Cuckoo behaviour
From: James Davis <>
Date: Sat, 15 Aug 1998 07:19:55 +1000 (EST)

  I enjoyed reading you  description of the cuckoo eating the large
caterpillar.  Behaviour-watching can be fun. I have also watched numerous
birds of various species eat large caterpillars and your description would
adequately apply to all of them (even butcherbirds).  What is the bird
doing?  Why doesn't it eat the "innards"?  There might be more going
on than merely obtaining a meal.  For example: 1) the "innards" could
be thrown away because they are toxic or 2) the outer skin is the
real prize, not for its nutritional content, but for another
reason (this is the impression I get when watching birds eat particular
species of caterpillars).  Can you recall how much of the caterpillar was
left when the bird finally swallowed? Do you have any idea what type of
caterpillar it was?

Cheers, Jim

Dr. Wm. James Davis, Editor
Interpretive Birding Bulletin

> But I chanced to come across a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo just as it caught a
> large caterpiller.  The grub (easier to type!) was way too large for the
> cuckoo to eat and I watched as it proceeded to solve this annoying
> problem.
> Firstly the cuckoo squeezed the grub at various points along its body,
> forcing unidentifiable innards to be expelled.  Not satisfied that this
> was sufficient, it gripped the grub and wiped it against both sides of
> the branch it was on, thereby crushing the body at the 2 points where it
> protruded from its bill.  The cuckoo then changed the position of the
> grub in its bill and repeated wiping it against the branch.  It
> continued to move the grub in its bill and squash new sections of the
> grub for about 10 minutes.  I watched entranced as the fat grub was
> crushed to a more tractable size.  Finally satisfied, the cuckoo
> swallowed the caterpiller.
> A delightful interlude in a rather dismal morning!
> Bye for now.
> --
> *************************************
> Robert Quinan
> Gosford
> Central Coast, NSW, Australia
> E-mail: 
> *************************************

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