Graeme Chapman - natural history photographer - ornithologist

Australian Birds

Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo
Cacomantis castaneiventris
(Viewing 4 of 5 photos)

Click to listen to sound samples For many years any sightings of Chestnut-breasted Cuckoos south of Cooktown were regarded with great suspicion because there are some very richly-coloured Fan-tailed Cuckoos out there, but in recent years the presence of the Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo on the Atherton Tableland near Julatten has been well documented. In that area, rather than inhabiting deep rain forest they seem to prefer a more scrubby sort of regrowth on the rain forest edges dominated by Acacia celsa .

Very little is known about Chestnut-breasted Cuckoos - the consensus is that they are resident but also they have been seen crossing Torres Strait. Easily heard but not so easily seen, their abbreviated trilling calls are sufficiently different from those of the Fan-tailed to be recognisable with practice, but failing that you may need the services of the local guide and expert, Del Richards (07 4094 1199) who knows precisely where to look.

Chestnut-breasted Cuckoos, apart from their richer coloration are slightly smaller than the Fan-tailed and there are fewer white markings on the tail, obvious from the underside and just visible from the rear. The three pics below show a Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo taken in Lockerbie Scrub on Cape York. For comparison I have added a very richly coloured Fan-tailed Cuckoo from Sundown N.P. on the Qld/NSW border. Odd individuals like this can occur throughout the range of the Fan-tailed Cuckoo - it has nothing to do with latitude - they are adult males.

On the sound page there are both Chestnut-breasted and Fan-tailed calls side by side for comparison.

Photo: 340201

340201 ... Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Lockerbie Scrub, Cape York.

Photo: 340202

340202 ... Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo

Photo: 340203

340203 ... From the rear Chestnut-breasteds show a lot less white in the tail than Fan-tailed.

Photo: 340204-D

340204-D ... In poor light male Fan-tailed Cuckoos like this one can easily be misidentified.

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