Re: Help with cuckoo ID

Subject: Re: Help with cuckoo ID
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 11:38:41 GMT+10
More Twitchathon problems! In NW Vic in Lake Heywoods Reserve (which 
was a open box woodland around quite a large freshwater lake) a ew 
kms from Piambie (70kms nw of Swan Hill) the four of us (Peter Fell, 
David Taylor and Josh McGoldrick and myself) were stumped by a 
strange call - now I'm hopless at describing calls so take this with 
a grain of salt, but it was a thin high-pitched, descending call with 
a slight trill to it. Each call was only a second or two long and 
there seemed to be several birds calling in the area. The call was 
vaguely cuckoo-like in quality but we were very familair with the 
Bronze cuckoo calls and it was obviosly none of these, at least 
nothing they do commonly. 
    We then found about three or four birds in the area which were 
clearly cuckoos. After spotting the first one we all thought we had a 
Blach-eared Cuckoo, but none of us had ever seen or heard this before 
and we really didn't think the call was anything like the BEC calls 
we'd heard on tape and later checks on this showed it clearly wasn't 
the cause of the frequent call we were hearing. The first bird we saw 
had a clear darkish ear mark - but I would not say it was black- and 
appeared larger and dumpier than the Bronze cuckoos and did not seem 
to have any barring at all and was quite light in colour overall and 
did not have any of the dark green shining colour of the Bronze 
cuckoos. However, we wern't really convinced and then looking at a 
couple of other of these birds it was obvious that some of them at 
least were Horsefelds BC - barring on breast and tails and colours 
were right excet they did seem a lot paler and the eye-mark darker 
than normal - could they be juveniles?
    But at least one of the cuckoos was clearly quite dumpy and 
seemed larger and there was no sign of any barring on the breast and 
we got perfect views of it but thee did seem to more barring n the 
tail than we thought there should have been for BEC and there was no 
obvious white stripe above the eye and the eye-mark did not stand out 
as it does in the guides we saw as being really black and obvious.
    In the end we twitched Horsefelds (which we also found elsewhere) 
and gave up on the mystery bird (time was awasting). We tenatively 
concluded we may have had juveniles of both spp. in the area which 
was within a few mts of each other or that it was just Horsefelds and 
were getting confused by the fact they were juvs and moving around and 
getting mixed up with each other. Some of us thought the weird call 
was being made by some of these birds, others were not so sure.
    Any suggestions ? on the bird the call or both?
    Sean Pywell

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