Channel-billed Cuckoo - Scythrops novaehollandiae

Channel-billed Cuckoo

Scythrops novaehollandiae

Family: Cuculidae (Old World (Parasitic) Cuckoos, 11 species in Australia).
Size: 60 cm
Distribution: Within 1000-2000 km of the coasts of northern and eastern Australia, as far south as the south of NSW, with a few patches in VIC.
Status: Moderately common
Habitat: Tall trees
References: Simpson and Day, Reader's Digest

The Channel-billed Cuckoo is Australia's largest cuckoo. Like all Australian cuckoos (except for the Pheasant Coucal) it is a nest parasite. That is, it lays its eggs in the nests of other species of birds. When the eggs hatch, the cockoo chicks kill or eject the chicks that belong to the nest. If you see one of these in a tree, usually there will be a whole lot of other birds all hassling it, sometimes quite severely. The Pheasant Coucal is larger, but it is in a different family and it is not a nest parasite.

Channel-billed Cuckoo - Scythrops novaehollandiae
Photo: Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney NSW. High Resolution (2625 x 1998).

Channel-billed Cuckoo - Scythrops novaehollandiae
Artwork: John Gould, 'The Birds of Australia', 1848. Original Scanned Image.

Some Birdwatching Resources


Field Guide to Australian Birds, by Michael Morcombe NEW: Field Guide to Australian Birds, by Michael Morcombe. This one has colour drawings of the eggs and the nests which not many other field guides do (I can't think of any that do). It's an excellent field guide and one of the four main ones (the other three being above this one). The weakness of this field guide is that some of the pictures of the birds aren't as good (or accurate) as the other three most used field guides. It's also the heaviest though there is a pocket edition which is much smaller and lighter.

Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

Purchase from Australia (Angus & Robertson)


Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds, Peter Slater, Pat Slater and Raoul Slater Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds, Peter Slater, Pat Slater and Raoul Slater. This is a smaller field guide, and its advantage is it is easy to carry around. Its size is 21.3 x 11.4 x 2.8 centimetres, or 8.4 x 4.5 x 1.1 inches in the old scale. So it is a good one to get if you want to have your field guide with you out in the field. Unlike most of the field guides it also has illustrations of the eggs of all the birds that breed in Australia. It has very good reviews on Amazon.

Click here to Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

Purchase from Australia (Angus & Robertson)

Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $28.45 AUD (May be unavailable)

Click here to purchase from Australia (Fishpond) May be expensive.

Click here to purchase from Amazon

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Channel-billed Cuckoo - Scythrops novaehollandiae

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