Flycatcher and cuckoo ID question

To: Steve Read <>, 'COG-L' <>
Subject: Flycatcher and cuckoo ID question
From: Jack & Andrea Holland <>
Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2019 21:27:11 +0000
Steve, while not definitive the following would support that the most likely combination is Satin Flycatcher/Brush Cuckoo as you initially identified.
Satin Flycatcher due to the altitude (1305 m), but also because in the two photos the colour boundary is (down) curved, meeting the wings at an acute angle.  While the angle isn’t that acute/sharp, it is similar to that shown in the Australian Bird Guide.  From a quick read HANZAB does not appear to emphasise this feature, though it does mention the line of demarcation for the Satin appears gently concave and not convex as for the Leaden.  I note the two respective plates are very similar for these aspects.
Brush Cuckoo because HANZAB indicates the species prefers to parasitise open nests.  Fan-tailed Cuckoos prefer to select hosts that build enclosed dome-shaped nests and less often parasitise open cup-shaped nests.   The greater blotchiness and the barring pattern of the tail is also more like that depicted for the Brush in both references. 
However, a complication is that while HANZAB notes that Miagra flycatchers constitute about 11.2% of the identified nests, in southern Australia the Leaden Flycatcher is one of the 3 main hosts.  This does conflict with the general view that locally the Brush Cuckoo is a bird of the higher areas where the Satin Flycatcher is more likely.
After 40 years of pretty serious birdwatching I still have difficulties with these two sets of species, sometimes even with the male flycatchers. 
Jack Holland
From: Steve Read
Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2019 5:18 PM
To: 'COG-L'
Subject: [canberrabirds] Flycatcher and cuckoo ID question

At Bendora Arboretum this morning, Lach and I saw a female flycatcher feeding a cuckoo high in the canopy. At the time,iIdentification was Satin Flycatcher and Brush Cuckoo, but female flycatchers are not easy and Lach’s photos showed pale grey under the tail so the flycatcher was entered on eBird as Satin/Leaden. The speckled back of the cuckoo and its size suggested Brush not Fantailed. Any advice on these identifications welcome – photos are at


By the way, this is evidence of breeding. Of the posisble codes (Carrying Food for flycatcher, Feeding Young for flycatcher, Recently Fledged Young for cuckoo), I presume the latter is the only sensible code to enter?





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