- Colour: Dull coppery-bronze on the top of its head and neck; its back and wings are iridescent bronze-green. Its underparts are white with copper-bronze bars across its chest and belly.
- It has a fine, straight, pointed beak.
- Size: 13 – 18 cm.
- Call: A high-pitched whistle which is repeated several times.
- Diet: A range of insects and their larvae (especially hairy caterpillars), including beetles, flies and ants. It usually plucks its prey from the leaves or branches of trees and shrubs, and very occasionally from the ground.
- Movement: In Australia, it occurs seasonally in south-eastern and south-western Australia, where it is a spring–summer breeding migrant; it inhabits parts of Queensland, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia the remainder of the year. Some birds which breed in New Zealand migrate via eastern Australia.
- Breeding: It lays a single pale-green to brown egg in other birds’ nests, and it is claimed that up to 16 eggs may be laid in a season. It chooses the nests of small birds, especially thornbills, wrens, flycatchers and honeyeaters, to lay its eggs in. The eggs are incubated by the host bird. After hatching, the nestling will often force the other eggs and chicks out of the nest and the host bird raises it alone, unaware that it is not its own young. The foster parents feed the young bird until it has feathers and is ready to fly, usually after two to three weeks, and they continue to feed the young cuckoo for several weeks after it leaves the nest.
What to Observe
- Hosts feeding young
ClimateWatch Science Advisor
The effects of climate change may influence a change in the timing of migrational movements by Shining Bronze-Cuckoos. It may also affect the timing of when they start to breed and the duration of their breeding activities. Help scientists answer the question: "How are our animals, plants and ecosystems responding to climate change?" by making simple observations.
When To Look
- From August to January for breeding behaviour.
- From October to April for migratory birds in south-eastern and south-western Australia.
Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes in the timing of these events, so remember to keep a lookout from August in northern Australia and from October in southern Australia for breeding activity!
Where To Look
- It prefers eucalypt forests and woodlands, though it may be seen in many different habitats where trees are present. It can even be found in suburban areas that have sufficient trees.
- Look in the tree-tops in a wide variety of wooded habitats, from rainforests to lightly wooded country.
- Throughout south-eastern and south-western Australia, including Tasmania.
Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes in their known ranges, so remember to keep a lookout beyond these regions!
Higgins PJ (ed.) 1999. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 4: Parrots to Dollarbird. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
Morcombe M 2000. Field Guide to Australian Birds. Steve Parish Publishing, Brisbane.
Pizzey G & Knight F 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
Schodde R and Tideman SC (eds) 1990. Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds (2nd Edition). Reader's Digest (Australia), Sydney.
Strahan R (ed) 1994. Cuckoos, Nightbirds and Kingfishers of Australia. Angus and Robertson and Australian Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.
- Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo (Chalcites basalis): has a plain or mottled throat, rather than distinct barring. Also, the barring on its belly is incomplete. The easiest way to distinguish it is to look for a dark eye stripe and a white eyebrow.
- Little Bronze-Cuckoo (Chalcites minutillus): the male has a bright-red eye and eye-ring.
Did You Know?
The call recording is by David Stewart Naturesound
It has been recorded laying its eggs in the nests of at least 65 species of birds.
Cuckoos are very noisy during the breeding season but are mainly silent the rest of the time.
Listen to the Call