Well I just wanted to note my agreement with Graeme about Pheasant Coucal
chicks (they are diabolically ugly as nestlings, so ugly to be almost appealing
in a converse kind of way). We once reared some chicks from a few days old and
we all agreed about their ugliness. Only a mother would love them. However,
later, at fledging, they became very attractive to our human eyes. "Cal" was
the unimaginative name we used for one survivor who loved grasshoppers, mince
and caterpillars. Luckily our kids collected the bush food.
Just the last few days I have been surrounded by Pheasant Coucals calling
around our house and I rather imagine Cal is one of them.
On the mouth markings, I have seen many different ones amongst the finches but
also wonder how widespread this is amongst other groups. The function seems
obvious in most cases.
On 02/11/2012, at 3:53 PM, Philip Veerman <>
> About: "There are very few specimens of nestlings in museums." Even if there
> was, surely this would be a hard feature to preserve and look at. I will add
> that Immelmann's "Australian Finches" book has a diagram of the mouth
> markings of nestlings of all Australian Finches.
> -----Original Message-----From:
> On Behalf Of Graeme Chapman
> Sent: Friday, 2 November 2012 3:34 PM To: Cc:
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Unusual markings
> inside baby cuckoo's mouth.
> 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 www.graemechapman.com.au
> 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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