Raising the alarm

The alarm calls of birds are worth paying attention to. Often they signal the arrival of a predator, such as a goshawk or falcon, or the discovery of a potential threat, like a Boobook Owl or Yellow-footed Antechinus. At this time of year they are frequently directed at cuckoos, recently arrived as migrants. Cuckoos are brood parasites, using the nests of unwary hosts in which to lay their eggs. While the hosts are good at directing their ire at the adult cuckoos, they are not so good at spotting the results of their cunning plans – once laid, the cuckoo egg sits undetected in the nest and when they hatch the young are treated as their own by the unwitting host. It’s a great strategy!


Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Rise and Shine, 17th August 2014.

This Yellow-tufted Honeyeater was one of a small flock calling noisily when a Fan-tailed Cuckoo intruded into their territory. Fan-tailed Cuckoos commonly parasitise thornbills, scrub-wrens and fairy-wrens but, gauging by this reaction, honeyeaters are not immune.


It was the alarm calls of Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters that drew my attention to the cuckoo.


Fan-tailed Cuckoo silhouette.


Rear view – showing the white-notched tail feathers.


Some of the Fan-tailed Cuckoo field marks are on display here – yellow eye-ring, rufous throat, short decurved bill and the white edging on the tail feathers.

2 responses to “Raising the alarm

  1. lynette amaterstein

    Always turns my head when I hear an alarm call.

  2. I like the rear-view of the Fan-tailed Cuckoo showing the white notches. Great details.

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