Graeme Chapman - natural history photographer - ornithologist

Bird calls / bird song
Fan-tailed Cuckoo

The repeated, sad-sounding trill of Fan-tailed Cuckoos is one of the most distinctive sounds of the Australian bush in Spring. Sometimes males sit and sing for long periods, particularly just after dawn or towards dusk and like most cuckoos, during the night as well. The trilling call, which is best regarded as their territorial advertisement call, varies very little right across Australia. Samples 003-150, 107-070, 200-360 and 071-300 are all examples of this call - 003-150 from near Perth WA, 107-070 from Canberra, 200-360 from Round Hill NSW and 071-300 from near Hay NSW. You can hear another one from the Atherton Tableland on my Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo page. In most of these samples the birds sing two trills, repeated every few seconds. At times I've heard individuals that repeat just a single trill (sample 003-150) and on odd occasions, those that trill three times over and over. Sample 071-350, a low soft whistle is also made by males usually when there is a female present - the function is unclear. A shrill three-note call that sounds like chiroo-weee with an upwards inflection is given by females. I haven't recorded it yet.

338 Fan-tailed Cuckoo 003-150
338 Fan-tailed Cuckoo 107-070
338 Fan-tailed Cuckoo 200-360
338 Fan-tailed Cuckoo 071-300
338 Fan-tailed Cuckoo 071-350

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