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


Birdsong, Don Stap Birdsong, Don Stap. From the promotional material: "Following one of the world's experts on birdsong from the woods of Martha's Vineyard to the tropical forests of Central America, Don Stap brings to life the quest to unravel an ancient mystery: Why do birds sing and what do their songs mean? We quickly discover that one question leads to another. Why does the chestnut-sided warbler sing one song before dawn and another after sunrise? Why does the brown thrasher have a repertoire of two thousand songs when the chipping sparrow has only one? And how is the hermit thrush able to sing a duet with itself, producing two sounds simultaneously to create its beautiful, flutelike melody?"

Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

Click here to purchase from Australia (Fishpond)

Click here to purchase from Wilderness Awareness School $24.00 USD (May not work)


The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight. This is the other of the two best bird field guides for Australia. It is the one preferred by many serious birdwatchers. However I find the pictures a bit dull looking for my taste — the birds all kind of look the same to me, making it harder to remember them in my mind. The illustrations are meant to be the most anatomically correct, though. The text descriptions are better than in Simpson and Day. If you want the most serious bird field guide get this one otherwise get Simpson and Day.

Purchase 9th ed. from Australia (Booktopia)

Purchase 9th ed. from Australia (Angus & Robertson)

Purchase 9th ed. from Australia (Dymocks)

Click here to purchase 9th ed. from Australia (The Nile)

Click here to purchase from Australia (Fishpond)

Click here to preorder the 9th ed. from Amazon

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Channel-billed Cuckoo - Scythrops novaehollandiae

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