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Pallid Cuckoo, Cacomantis pallidus

Photo copyright Dave Watts


The Pallid Cuckoo is a large (up to 330mm), slender cuckoo with dark grey-brown, barred plumage above and paler grey underparts. The eye-ring is yellow, with a dark grey eye-stripe.


The Pallid Cuckoo occurs in open forests and woodlands, gardens and treed agricultural land.


The Pallid Cuckoo spots insects and their larvae from a low perch, pouncing upon them, usually on the ground. Some insects are taken from foliage. They have a particular liking for hairy caterpillars.


Typical of cuckoos, the Pallid Cuckoo does not build a nest but lays eggs singularly in the nests of other species, particularly the nests of honeyeaters, but also woodswallows, flycatchers, cuckoo-shrikes, orioles and Magpie Larks. The female cuckoo removes one of the hosts' eggs and replaces it with one of her own. The cuckoo egg usually hatches earlier and the young cuckoo forces the other eggs (or chicks) out of the nest. The precocious cuckoo chick grows rapidly and is fed by the "foster" parents.


A series of up to eight rising whistles. Males produce an excited "crookya, crookya" when chasing females. (Audio recordings courtesy of David Stewart/Nature Sound)


Distribution Map courtesy Natural Values Atlas, data from theLIST
© 2011 State of Tasmania
The Pallid Cuckoo is the most widely distributed of the cuckoos. It is found throughout mainland Australia and also Christmas Island, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.

In Tasmania, the species is a common spring and summer migrant.