Christmas Pantomime in the Backyard
If you need a break from all the eating this Christmas season, why not relax in the backyard and let mother nature put on her own Christmas entertainment.
You might just spot a Pheasant Coucal running around your back door.
The north and east of Australia has a bird that you’d think was a pheasant. Named the Pheasant Coucal, it’s black with reddish brown wings and a long black and orange tail, but it’s really a cuckoo in disguise!
It’s actually a bit of a disgrace to the cuckoo family, because it doesn’t spirit its eggs into other birds’ nests. It builds its own nest, dad sits on the eggs, and he and his mate for life will raise their own young. Not typical cuckoo behaviour at all!
The Pheasant Coucal is an ungainly bird – awkward-looking whilst flying and laughable when it lands in a bush. Wings, tail and legs go everywhere for a minute as it tries to regain its cool. Its long tail makes flying any more than short distances a bit of a chore.
Pheasant Coucals will run rather than fly and are often seen darting around near roadsides trying to get into the cover of long grass. They also flap around sugarcane plantations, jump in clumps of lantana or blueberry, or potter about amongst dense undergrowth. You might also spot one running madly along the top of your fence.
You might recognise the Pheasant Coucal by its distinctive ‘oop-oop-oop-opp’ call. Sometimes mates will duet, providing a concert that sounds like water bubbling from a big bottle. Listen to the Pheasant Coucal’s call here. In winter, its voice is a sharp hissing!
Look out for Pheasant Coucals while you’re driving as they run rather than fly when startled, and may try to run across the road.