Taxonomic Question 1: Oriental Cuckoo 'species'. Two in Australia.

To: "Philip Griffin" <>, "BIRDING-AUS" <>, "Danny Rogers" <>
Subject: Taxonomic Question 1: Oriental Cuckoo 'species'. Two in Australia.
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2006 09:32:25 +1000
In part "Philip Griffin" <> to: "birding-aus" 
<> April 22, 2006 said:

'I've noticed that a paper from last year
King. 2005. Bull. Brit. Ornithol. Cl. 125(1):48-55
elevates the 3 former subspecies of Oriental Cuckoo to species status.
King uses the names Himalayan Cuckoo (Cuculus saturatus), Sunda Cuckoo
(Cuculus lepidus) [resident Malaya, Greater & Lesser Sundas] and
Oriental Cuckoo (Cuculus horsfieldi).
O.K., so that means Cuculus saturatus, Cuculus lepidus &
and Cuculus optatus.
But does King imply that both saturatus and optatus (although he calls it
horsfieldi) winter in Australia?
"C.(s.) horsfieldi and C.(s.) saturatus winter from southern India
east and south to New Guinea and Australia."

And does that mean there are 2 species of "Oriental Cuckoo" in Australia?'

Well, on current evidence as I read it and recalling advice received some years 
ago from Danny Rogers, it does or 'probably' does!
Danny is the person to answer this but as he is away overseas I'll try this!
Under 'Recognition' HANZAB IV p.661, says Oriental Cuckoo C.(s.) optatus is the 
common taxon in Australia but at least 2 specimens, both females, are 
considered to be C.(s.) saturatus, (Himalayan Cuckoo). But the final statement 
'probably occur occasionally in Aust.', is less positive. So how to tell them 
apart? As far as I know, only by call and a slight difference in size. 
Himalayan is smaller.

Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mt Eliza    VIC     3930
Ph:  (03) 9787 7136

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