Need help to identify mystery bird

To: "Birding-Aus (E-mail)" <>
Subject: Need help to identify mystery bird
From: Stuart Mulvenna <>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2001 12:08:21 +1100
Well, it's a mystery to me anyhow. I've checked my bird guides but haven't 
been able to identify it.

At dusk on Saturday 6th Jan at Berowra in Sydney's north, we heard a 
strange bird call which I can only describe as sounding like a small dog 
yelping. The call consisted of a single low "yowp", repeated continuously. 
We tracked it to a tree in somebody's driveway, where there was a large 
bird high up in the foliage lying horizontally on a branch, but 
unfortunately in the gloom I couldn't identify any marks. There was a 
second bird making the same noise that flew between the tree and a patch of 
scrub on the other side of the road.

The following day we went back and found one of the birds calling in the 
patch of scrub, perched in a casuarina tree about 20 feet off the ground, 
and were able to observe it from below. The bird was aware of us but didn't 
seem concerned at our presence, staying on the same branch and calling 
continuously for the 10 minutes or more that we were observing it. It was 
still there when we left. Details are as follows:

Call - a single "yowp", repeated continuously.
Size - large, about the size of a currawong or crimson rosella
Tail - long, finely barred like a cuckoo
Underbody & breast - creamy-white, with some tinges of orange (immature or 
recently moulted?)
Legs - same creamy-white, as I couldn't distinguish them from the belly in 
my bins
Wings - brown with a rather beautiful marbled pattern
Back - couldn't really see from below, but it appeared to be shading to 
black along the spine
Head - black with a broad white streak above the eyebrow and two more white 
streaks on either side of its throat, the effect was rather like the 
pattern on a New Holland honeyeater.
Beak - grey or black (couldn't really tell in the shade), short curved 
beak, looks like that of Common Koel in Slater
Eye - black
Perch - this was really distinctive, with the bird lying almost 
horizontally on the branch, balanced on the mid-point of its belly.

My initial thought was that this bird was some sort of cuckoo, based on the 
long barred tail and the general lack of movement of the bird. The closest 
I can find in my birdguides is a female Common Koel, however my bird 
definitely had a white stripe above the eye, not below, and the breast and 
wing feathers were different from the illustrations and descriptions in 
Slater and Pizzey. Anyone have any suggestions?

The location: bush reserve on the corner of Currawong Road & Berowra Waters 
Road, Berowra Heights, marked "Aboriginal Carvings" in the Gregory's street 

Thanks in advance,


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