that's how I described Pheasant Coucal chicks in Birds of Aus Top End - so
ugly only a mother could love them. But I agree - they are also appealing,
and funny. Once Hilary imitated the call of a PC sitting on a powerline
near East Point. It immediately hopped off and running up to his feet
cocked its head and looked him in the eye. It then ran off to the bushes
and turned around waiting for him to follow. The bird pursued us all the
way up the beach before deserting us after about 500 m. It then popped out
again on our return and again pursued Hilary in the same manner.
Denise L Goodfellow
On 2/11/12 10:45 PM, "Valentine, Peter" <> wrote:
> 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
> 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.
> Peter Valentine
> 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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