Long-tailed Cuckoo – an enigmatic bird

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The long-tailed cuckoo is an enigmatic bird – mysterious and little understood. Although reasonably common during their six-months in NZ each year, they are rarely seen, although often heard. Recently, along with a birding colleague, we visited a place, inland from Whanganui, where these cuckoos are known to frequent. We went early, as birds are more active then, and as the day warms, seem to disappear. We placed ourselves on the side of a ridge, across the valley from another ridge, and immediately we were surrounded with whitehead calls, the bird whose nests the cuckoo uses to lay their single egg. Soon, we had long-tailed cuckoos calling, and after I played a recording of their own call, a number of birds appeared and flew over us. We had up to five birds flying in the sky above, and a number of others calling from the bush, all at the same time, both their screech and rattle calls. This was repeated a dozen times. What a great morning, so good, that we visited again a few days later, with the same results. Next year I plan to go again, late January to early February, as it is such a great place for bush birds of all types.