Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo feeds immature.

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo feeds immature.
From: "Del Richards" <>
Date: Sun, 24 Apr 2005 11:40:15 +1000
To all at Birding-aus,
Earlier this month I was birding with Lorna Bloom of Sydney in elevated rainforest south of Mossman and at one stop we heard a chestnut-breasted Cuckoo calling nearby. We were fortunate that the bird moved closer and once under observation realised that it appeared to be more actively foraging for food than usual.
    It was calling more than usual and initially was mobbed by smaller species.
    The cuckoo flew into the head of a regrowth wattle in clear view. After a couple of minutes an immature landed on a branch some two metres distant and adjacent to the adult.
    The adult immediately feed the younger bird and flew off. After about two minutes the immature followed the adult into the forest.
    This scenario poses some questions. I initially heard an adult calling close by on 10/01/05. On 18/03/02 we sighted an adult about 200 metres away (through calling).                 Considering the fact that the hosts to this species would most likely be scrub-wrens or fairy-wrens I can well imagine that their size differeniation may well mean that the foster parents run out of energy and resources. To me that makes sense.
   Another consideration is that these cuckoos forage at higher levels in the forest than their hosts and perhaps this behavior needs to be reinforced by an adult.
    On the Daintree River in 2002 I observed a male Gould's Bronze-cuckoo feeding an immature. It was obvious that the young was following the adult and we saw the adult back track along the riverbank to offer food on two ocassions.
    It appears that cuckoos may be more family oriented than we appreciate.
Del. Richards, Fine Feather Tours, Mossman, NQ.
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