Unusual markings inside baby cuckoo's mouth.

Subject: Unusual markings inside baby cuckoo's mouth.
From: Graeme Chapman <>
Date: Fri, 2 Nov 2012 15:33:55 +1100
Hello Jenny,

 According to Google, in many places, nestling birds from very different 
families have distinctive mouth markings. 

 In Australia, nestling Pheasant Coucals, possibly the ugliest nestlings in 
existence, have very attractive tongue markings. Coucals are closely related to 
cuckoos. You can see a picture on my website at

I have seen distinctive tongue markings in other birds in Australia, such as 
Golden-headed Cisticola, the grassbirds, the songlarks and Horsfield's Bushlark 
to name a few. The bushlark is also on my website. 

I have a vague memory of having possessed a coloured broadsheet many years ago 
that showed a wide range of different patterns and colours of nestling's mouth 
patterns somebody had once photographed, but I  can"t find it now.

It is an interesting subject, but unless you are a bird photographer or bird 
bander (or even an egg collector!!) such information, which I suspect would be 
a useful taxonomic clue, is largely unknown. There are very few specimens of 
nestlings in museums.


Graeme Chapman

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