Monday, 22 November 2010

Pallid cuckoo

Cuculus pallidus

Photo by Larry Dunis (Bushpea)

Common name:
pallid cuckoo (en); cuco-pálido (pt); coucou pâle (fr); cuco pálido (es); blaßkuckuck (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Cuculiformes
Family Cuculidae

Range:
They are found throughout Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand, and migrate north to winter in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Christmas Island.

Size:
The pallid cuckoo is 28-33 cm and weighs an average 89 g.

Habitat:
The pallid cuckoo inhabits subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical mangrove forests. They mostly use open forests, as well as cleared and cultivated open country near forests.

Diet:
They mostly eat insects and caterpillars taken from foliage.

Breeding:
The pallid cuckoo lays its eggs in the nests of honeyeaters, woodswallows, whistlers and flycatchers. Common host species include the Willie wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys and the hooded robin Melanodryas cuculatta. The female cuckoo removes one of the host's eggs and replaces it with one of her own. The cuckoo egg usually closely resembles the host egg but hatches before the others, after which the young cuckoo instinctively forces the other eggs (or chicks) out of the nest. The young cuckoo is fed by its “foster” parents until fledging, often becoming larger than them.

Conservation:
IUCN status – LC (Least concern)
Although there is no reliable population estimate, the species has a very large breeding range and is suspected to be increasing as ongoing habitat degradation may be creating new areas of suitable habitat. This supports the assertion that the pallid cuckoo is not threatened at present.

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