Cuckoos and caterpillars #1

Cuckoos are great predators of caterpillars, with all local visiting migrant species happily finding them in the canopy and on the ground. This recently arrived Fan-tailed Cuckoo, descended directly in front of me to snatch a woolly caterpillar from amongst the grass, before alighting to a perch to enjoy the meal.


Fan-tailed Cuckoo with prey, Clydesdale, 6th September 2014.

Watching cuckoos hunting is fascinating, as they work they way diligently through the foliage in pursuit of prey. When actively feeding they’ll find numerous items every minute. Many caterpillars have a reputation, well deserved, as being unpleasant eating. This doesn’t deter the cuckoos – they’ve adapted to whatever toxins are present and play a key role in limiting the numbers of foliage eating caterpillars in the bush.


The cuckoo bashed the caterpillar on a branch a number of times …


… before consuming it whole


Looking satisfied!

2 responses to “Cuckoos and caterpillars #1

  1. How I miss the cuckoo’s call in spring now I live in the big smoke. Used to live just over the hill from Newstead, built a mud house there in the 70’s. Do you still see woodswallows or hear mistletoe eating painted honeyeaters?

  2. Hi there
    Painted Honeyeaters are regular spring visitors, having arrived about 3 weeks ago. Only a few arrive each year at favourite locations (with abundant mistletoe). Dusky Woodswallows are resident throughout the year, while White-browed and Masked Woodswallows are regular spring visitors, breeding in colonies most years. They are yet to appear but I expect them at the weekend – a warm northerly in mid October is the key.
    Cheers, geoff

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