There aren’t too many down sides to living in our little piece of paradise but one is that we occasionally find birds that have died as a result of flying into our windows. The most recent casualty was a little shining cuckoo.
Shining cuckoos are more often heard than seen. They have a cheerful song of upward sounding whistles but their ‘cryptic’ colouring is excellent camouflage.
A small bird, the shining cuckoo is about 16 cm or 6 inches from tip to tip and weighs 23 gm (less than an ounce). But they undertake an epic journey every year. Each spring, usually the first week in October, they arrive from their winter home in Papua New Guinea or the Soloman Islands.
Like other cuckoos, they don’t build their own nest but lay their eggs in the nest of the tiny grey warbler (11 cm & 5 – 6 gm) leaving the foster parents to raise the chicks.
One summer morning, I got up early and without waking the family went out to water the garden. A shining cuckoo took advantage of the stream of water from the hose to have a shower. It flew into the water and perching on a branch, fluffed up and shook the feathers on it’s back then turned around and washed the front. The morning ablutions took less than a minute but my smile lasted long after the little bird had gone.
Read all about the shining cuckoo here at New Birds Online.