Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wildlife on Wednesday ... the Pheasant Coucal.

Can you spot it?

... the Phantom Pheasant!

NO ... it 's not the 'Ghost Who Walks', more like the 'Bird Who Walks' ... because this bird finds it very difficult to get off the ground at all, let alone stay in flight mode!  This Wildlife on Wednesday post is all about the bird named the Pheasant Coucal.

Now, this bird is not a Pheasant despite having Pheasant as part of its name.  Centropus phasianinus ... Pheasant Coucal ... is, in fact, a 'pheasant-like' Cuckoo!!!   It's the only member of the Coucal family that lives Downunder.

It's a black bird with brown/chestnut wings, red eye, large feet and a long tail.  In fact, this Cuckoo is a ground-dweller ... primarily because its long, long tail makes flying any great distance a real chore!!  Trying to get off the ground with that tail is an onerous task ... and watching the poor thing trying to take off does cause me to chuckle a bit!  It's such an awkward affair ... not the least bit graceful!

This bird is found all across Australia's top end and down the east coast all the way to Sydney.  Its diet consists of mainly large insects and small animals, and it lives in permanent territories mostly in grassland areas.

Pheasant coucals form lasting pairs and they are a common sight here in the foothills.  Out in the bushland close to my home, they take up residence in the enormous clumps of Lantana.   That's where the pair will build their nest.  It's the male that will incubate the eggs and feed the young, although the female will help with the feeding.


  1. Interesting blog Bernie In the last shot he looks quite prehistoric that .beak looks mean!

  2. These are great photos Bernie. They are really so well camouflaged in their surroundings.


  3. What an interesting bird. Thanks for sharing their story and pictures.


  4. Bernie, a pair of coucals come for walks in my garden everyday, but I have not been able to catch them in my camera. I must congratulate you for your wonderful photos. The Coucals here have more orange wings.

  5. Great photos. Never knew they nested in lantana. It would make good cover for them I suppose.

  6. Bernie.....You are brilliant...wish I had had you for my teacher back in college. Everything you write is so interesting and informative and your photos are delightful. Thanks for all you do to help educate me and the rest of us out in bloggerland who want to learn more about plants, flowers, birds and animals. You are the BEST teacher!

  7. Gotta love those coucals! I remember someone (ages ago) abandoning research on them because he couldn't catch any. We suggested he strung a net across the road.

  8. Wonderful looking bird, interesting to hear that lantana is not all bad and has its uses.

  9. What a great compilation of such a familiar, yet not really known-to-me bird!
    I've been asked to recommend info to travelers to Australia: Is there a site you know of for garden listings from coast to coast? xo

  10. Alice ... I can't find anywhere that has open gardens listed freely for general information. Trust the Aussies! The site for our Australian Open Gardens Scheme is:
    but you would have to purchase the 2010-2011 Open Gardens Guide.

    I do have one myself and would be happy to send it to you ... it might actually be cheaper that way.

  11. Thanks everyone for your comments.

    Snail ... whoever wanted to do research should have come down this way after visiting your spot, as these birds are a common sight almost everyday around here as well!!!

    Catmint and Missy ... yes the huge clumps of lantana around here are always used by the Coucals.

  12. What a neat looking pheasant, thanks for sharing!

  13. Glad you liked this Coucal of ours, Darla. They're a common sight around here.

  14. I love Coucals! We used to have a pair visit our garden and knew when they were around by their characteristic call. They haven't visit this year at all. Your pictures are incredible. They definitely aren't the easiest of birds to spot.


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