birding-aus Hepatic Oriental Cuckoo

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Subject: birding-aus Hepatic Oriental Cuckoo
From: "W H Jolly" <>
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 12:10:13 +1000

Lorne's sighting of a hepatic female Oriental Cuckoo triggers the question
of whether there are any definitive tricks to separating hepatic females
from immatures.

I live on a creekside property at Helidon, about 100 km inland from
Brisbane, and it's something of a bird highway, and a birders highway too

We have had Oriental Cuckoos visit on and off over the years, but only once
a hepatic back in 1990, when both a grey bird and a brown bird spent seven
days together feasting on an abundance of something in the creekside

At the time, I satisfied myself that the brown bird was a hepatic female
rather than an imm,  to some extent because of the subjective impression of
a well marked  adult  bird rather than a juvenile.  My  notes from the time
show that the brown bird had a clear yellow  eye  ring, not  green or cream;
the legs were bright yellow; banding on  the abdomen and throat very bold
and dark, not at all  suffused; the primaries  uniformly  very  dark
lacking  the  slight   banding elsewhere on the closed wings.

But I remember being frustrated that I couldn't find any references to
reliable specifics to separate the hepatic and the imm in a definitive way.
I spoke to Walter Boles at the Australian Museum at the time - he observed
that there are very few skins in their collection, and he didn't know to
what extent they could be distinguished in the field.

But all of that was before the net and this Birding Aus communication
miracle!  Like Lorne, I feel happy that the brown bird was an adult hepatic,
but I  would certainly welcome input from anyone who has experience with the
brown phase females.

Bill Jolly

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