Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Pallid Question

Yes another cuckoo! Visiting the Meehan Range yesterday, "chasing" the elusive Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoos, I came across a few Pallid, all, with one exception, adult birds. The exception is the bird at right, which looks to me, as a bird I would identify as in immature plumage. However, I don't recall seeing one in this plumage at this time of year before, and at least one 'handbook', suggests that I should be able to differentiate the plumages of male and female Pallid Cuckoos. Am I right in my assumption that this bird is an immature and are they regularly seen in this plumage at this time of year? I've added a 'new' shot of an adult Pallid Cuckoo too. I failed to find a single Horsfield's!

3 comments:

John & Shirley Tongue said...

It certainly looks like immature plumage to me, though it's surprising to think there would be any immature birds around yet. I wonder how long it takes for them to attain adult plumage, and whether any of last year's brood are likely to leave the state, and then return some months later while still being in immature plumage? Maybe someone knows the answer to that. I'm sure HANZAB would be able to tell us whether it happens, but we haven't been able to afford to get a set of those!

On the Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoos, I think I'm right in saying the only ones we have seen in Tassie have been on King Island, and the far north west. I have heard of people seeing them in the south, and I think we may have heard them once or twice, but they are certainly not very common down here.

BirdingTas said...

Hi John,
As I mentioned in the blog, I can't recall seeing this plumage at this time of year, but perhaps it was a late starter from last season. There are Horsfield's about down South. In past years I've mistnetted them in the Meehan Range together with Shining. But, in recent weeks while trying to photograph them, I've realised that there are either very few about, or they're not calling. I think more care needs to be exercised (from personal experience) when IDing these two species--I've usually used calls, which I believe is still the best method.

John Tongue said...

Hi again Alan (AGAIN, on this topic),
I was reading from my old, beat-up copy of the Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian birds, the other night before falling into bed.

Reading the entry on the Pallid Cuckoo, I was struck by the last couple of sentences, which I thought apply well here:

"The immature Pallid Cuckoo is heavily mottled on its upper parts and might be confudes with the immature India Koel, but the latter is much larger. The female apparently takes three or four moults to loose its mottling, but the mottling is not a distinguishing female characteristic. It will breed in its mottled plumage."

This may go some way towards solving the mystery.