The silent type

Another observation of an overwintering Fan-tailed Cuckoo prompted me to have a look at BirdData for seasonal records of the species in this part of central Victoria.

FTC5

Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Muckleford Nature Conservation Reserve, 13th June 2022

The first map below shows records since 1998 for the months of May and June, the second map the combined records for May to August. Clearly this species is about during winter, at least in some years, but observations peak from August through November when they can be readily heard calling throughout the box-ironbark country.

Even in Tasmania, at the southern-most edge of their range, a few individuals are observed through deep winter. It is anybody’s guess as to whether our local ‘fantails’ are residents or migrants from further south, and furthermore if their movements are changing along with our climate. They are largely silent until their hosts (fairy-wrens, scrubwrens and thornbills) commence nest building with the first hint of spring, however I have been hearing the odd bird calling in recent weeks, along with a Shining Bronze-cuckoo.

Picture1

Fan-tailed Cuckoo records (red dots) in central Victoria – May to June (all years)

Picture2

Fan-tailed Cuckoo records (red dots) in central Victoria – May to August (all years)

This individual was hunting caterpillars from a series of low perches, dropping successfully to the forest floor numerous times as I followed.

FTC2

II

FTC4

III

FTC1

IV

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V

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