We had heard the distinct call of this bird in past years but always somewhere in the distance. This year it was nearer – near enough that we might get to see it here in western Sydney, close to Blacktown.
It was in a large eucalypt that overshadows our neighbour’s backyard that we first got to witness the ‘blitzkrieg’ employed by these birds and the terrible sound they deliver that would make any protective magpie sitting on a nest leave it. At not much more than twenty metres away, the sight and sound of two huge birds flapping noisily into the crown of the tree and with a volume of alarm like voice that only a bird of their size could produce was enough to shock even us.
We had a clear view of these birds now. It is their size that grabs your attention first and then that beak. This was a face that only a mother could love. The Channel-billed Cuckoo is a ‘parasitic’ bird which lays its eggs in a host nest of other species of birds. As their chicks are large the host parents have to be capable of keeping up the food supply to them, and this at the expense of host birds' own offspring. Currawongs, magpies and crows apparently are some of the birds chosen by the Channel-billed Cuckoo to be the parent for their chicks. In early summer this Cuckoo will migrate back north to the island countries beyond the coastal borders of Australia.
Author Bio: Paul Hadley is a long time resident of the Western Sydney City of Blacktown who has always been excited by the richness nature displays, even in the least rich suburbs of Australia. It’s the great equalizer.