Last updated: January 24, 2013

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Cuckoo feeding


Cuckoos belong to the family Cuculidae, well known for parasitic behaviour where they lay their eggs in other nests and leave the chick rearing to other birds. Not all of them practice this parasitic behaviour. In Australia the Pheasant Coucal and the Brush Cuckoos build their own nests. The Channel-Bill Cuckoo and the Koel mostly use Black and white birds to rear their young. It is not uncommon to see a Channel-Billed Cuckoo following Crows or a Common Koel with Peewees. The smaller cuckoos are known to use host nests from Wrens, Thornbills, Warblers and Honeyeaters.

How can I help Cuckoos to breed:

There are three really important things you can do to help native birds:

  1. Replace their habitat – plant a shrub or a bush not just a tree! Trees need to connect to enable safe passage for the birds. Any open area makes them vulnerable to be attacked by natural predators, like kookaburras, hawks, falcons, snakes, owls and the introduced predators such as cats, dogs, foxes or Indian mynas.
  2. Be a responsible companion animal guardian. Keep your cat inside or in a cat enclosure. Always supervise your dog – especially during Spring and Summer and den your dog at night.
  3. You can help by keeping your rubbish in a bin where black and white birds can’t get at it. Firstly because they forage in it inadvertently getting it caught around their feet, body or beaks, and secondly they use it as nesting material. Basically they will use string, twine, wire, wool, netting, basically any material they can find to build a nest. When the chicks grow up in the nest, their feet and legs often get entwined in this string. Many of these birds become attached to the nest and the tree branch. They are tethered to the nest like on a lead and when they fledge (try to leave the nest to fly) they are either totally unable to leave or injured and deformed rendering them unable to forage, perch and therefore live a healthy life.

If you find a baby bird that has fallen or just left the nest you can fashion a replacement nest out of a hanging pot or hanging basket. It doesn’t have to be exactly where the nest was but in the general vicinity – Mum and Dad will come and feed and look after the chick if you keep at a safe distance.

In an emergency if you come across any animal that is sick or injured call 1300ANIMAL, contain the animal, put it in a box in a warm, dark, quiet place.

Avoid pesticides, herbicides and other chemical use where ever possible.

Feeding issues

Mince can stick in the top of beak Rather if you have to – beef strips with added calcium shaker and thiamine (vit B1) water to drink and to bathe in.

Aknowledgments: Image

For Wildlife Information

For wildlife information in Western Australia contact or (08) 9209-9300 (8:30 to 5, Monday -Friday)

For wildlife information in Victoria contact Wildlife Victoria – 13 000 WILDLIFE or 13 000 94535

For wildlife information in Queensland contact Wildlife Department in Fairfield on either 07 3426 9910 or 0417 614 941 or


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