I've followed this thread with some interest.Firstly, my
intuitive reaction was that the Fan-tailed Cuckoo is seen or heard for all of
the year up here on the Blackall Range.I couldn't think of a time of the year
when it wasn't around. Secondly, it's a bird which once caused me to lose my way
(literally) by following its call into dense mallee, and then , on getting back
onto the track, couldn't for the life of me figure out which direction to take
back to camp as daylight quickly faded. I was saved by the arrival of a fellow
birder calmly walking back to camp whom I gratefully and sheepishly joined, as
her countenance had none of the rank anxiety showing on mine. I wasn't let out
again until I purchased a compass so I least I knew my N from my S.
Anyway, I thought I'd better check my
perception that fan-tailed were here all year round and checked back through my
monthly home valley list of the last 9 years.And I was right, kind-off.They were
recorded in every month of the year, but not in any one year. The peak months
were March, April, May, June (middle-Autumn to mid-winter) where they were
present in 8 of the 9 years.The lowest counts were in Dec and Jan with 1 and 3
records respectively. The other months averaged 5 or 6 of the 9 years of
The year with the most months
of sightings was1998 with 11months, with the lowest being'97,'01,'02 with only 6
months. Interestingly the low years of '01 and '97 contained two of the three
only Dec sightings whilst the only Jan sighting was in the top year,
So if its possible/wise to summarize these
very localized records, Fan-tailed cuckoos can appear year round on the Blackall
Range (100 km N of Brisbane), but are most abundant/visible in the period March
to June. They are regularly seen from Feb through to Nov. and least likely to be
recorded in mid-summer.
I think my intuition was correct, and yes I still use a
compass, though it doesn't always stop the panic!!
Russ Lamb, Maleny,SEQ
Whilst looking at references on the Fan-tailed Cuckoo, I'll
add some info from Canberra, on the population trends of the species,
with this extract from my "Canberra Birds: A Report on
the first 21 years of the Garden Bird Survey". (This is based on 1316 observer years of
data.) The COG Atlas (McComas Taylor & COG) tells a similar
Fan-tailed Cuckoo Cacomantis
This is a forest and
woodland inhabitant. It is less migratory than other cuckoos, so its monthly
pattern, although typical of cuckoos, is much less well defined. This species
is quite vocal, especially during spring. However the call is probably not as
far-carrying as Pallid or Brush Cuckoo. From a mid winter low with very few
observations, numbers increase sharply from August to a peak in October, then
decline quickly till December, staying in even reduced numbers through summer
and autumn before declining to the winter low. Numbers have declined
significantly, at about half the abundance from Years 12 to 21 as for the
first 11 years.
-----Original Message-----Hi all,
Jim Caine <>
Saturday, 23 August 2003 16:41
Subject: [BIRDING-AUS] re:
According to the Atlas
of Victorian Birds (1987)
"Fan-tailed Cuckoos are partial summer
migrants to Victoria from further north, although those that remain during
winter usually stop calling and become inconspicuous". p
Presumably this means some migrate north and some don't
My impression here in Maribyrnong (Vic, Melb.) was that one arrived
recently. None were sighted over a period of 7 months of regular
observations prior to September.
The Atlas entry goes on to
indicate that reporting rates for Fan-tailed Cuckoos in April, May and June
were at 5% - the lowest level - and then peaked at 25-30 % in
September, October and November. The reporting rates do show prescence all
If some migrate, it seems likely that they return in August and
Pizzey and Knight says "part migratory".
Day indicate annual migrant.
Slater, Slater and Slater say "common
resident or migrant...to south-east; common migrant in Tas."
Morcombe says "partly locally migratory"
So where does that leave us
? Somewhere in between resident and migratory ?
Neither are fully