Cuckoo confusion

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Cuckoo confusion
From: Andrew <>
Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2000 10:45:20 +1000
Hello birding-ausers
Perhaps you can take your minds off "alternative names" for a moment and
help me.  Am I in "cloud cuckoo land" or not?
Today, Feb 20 at 9 am, I was at Kybong, approx 15 km south of Gympie.
There is a Matilda service station there with an ornamental lake/dam
beside it - and an island of breeding cattle egrets.  A very pleasant
spot and well worth a visit if you are in the area.
Anyway, in the park beside the lake, I found an immature koel being fed
by magpie-larks.  It was very noisy and quite bold (flew to within 3
metres of me) and it looked exactly like the imm koel illustrations in
the field guides.
Then my attention was drawn to another, similar-sized cuckoo being
pestered by willie wagtails.  This bird seemed to be by itself, remained
silent at all times and was rather shy.  It would only let me approach
to, say 10 metres, before flying away to another tree.  I followed it to
about 4 different trees and was able to get good binocular views and, in
between, consult my copy of Slater.
It was very different to the imm koel.  It was generally light brown and
cream, with light grey legs.  Its forehead and crown were generally
light (cream, not rufous) and it had a definite white stripe below the
eye.  The streaking on its chest went up and down, rather than across.
I immediately thought of a Long-tailed cuckoo.  I have birded in NZ, but
unfortunately missed that species there.  However, I do have all the
latest NZ guides, which I later consulted.  The problem with this bird
being a LTC is that the tail did not seem to be so characteristically
long.  Indeed, from the front view, the tail even appeared forked.
I am confused and would appreciate any comments, particularly with
respect to the amount of variation there is among young koels and
comments from birders who know the long-tailed cuckoo well.  Cheers.
Andrew Thelander

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