Author JeLa D. ◦ Photos by Dorothy L.

Drop them off at the creche, pick them up as a teenager…

It’s coming up to 1800 hours  (6 pm) and I’m sitting outside waiting, it’s very quiet as I haven’t heard the Channel-billed Cuckoo since this morning, nor the Torresian Crow for that matter. Yesterday I heard and seen, two adult Channel-billed Cuckoos and wondered, why are they here now?? surely they had left.

My interest in the CBC (that is my abbreviation for the Channel-billed Cuckoo), started late last year with the sound of their raucous call, then sleepless nights. I also had very little success in getting a focused photograph. 

They mated in the tree just outside the fence line, it was just on sunrise, but the photos I took were grainy, so were deleted… still “I will get more, they’ll be around, it’s not just a one of, is it?”

Every time I heard their call, I raced outside with my camera, just in time to see them fly over the  house into the sun, or into the depth of the foliage of the tallest tree, with the wind blowing a gale.

The CBC seemed to wait until the early hours of the morning, yes that’s right an hour or two after midnight, Squawk, Squawk, Squawk and loud, very loud. Often I was unable to return to my wonderful restful sleep. I assure you TV at this time is not a must watch!!

Well, eventually I  was able to achieve focused pics of the baby bird waiting to be fed by it’s foster parent the Torresian Crow, preening itself, being swooped  on by other birds then being fed by the foster parent. Yes, all very exciting you may say… but it was to me. I had become involved.

It was about this time all the OH&S rules flew out the door, what you say? It was early, no surprises there. I heard the call, and quickly put on some clothes, grabbed the camera, raced out the side door and there in the tree across the road, the CBC!!!

Of course the bird was nearly at the top of the tree, and conveniently there was a ladder in the garden, so up the ladder I climbed, camera in one hand holding on with the other. 

Click, click, click!! Finally managed to get the shot, the CBC being fed by the Torresian Crow and in the profile position.

It then dawned on me, OH&S!!!! OMG what was I thinking, the ladder was on a slight tilt, very slight movement, also I had thongs on my feet!!! BUT I got the photo, a bit unfocused but it will smarten up with a bit of a tweak on the laptop, won’t it?

Oh the ladder, you ask, well it’s been there a while, as maintenance  being done around the place.

So that brings me back to “why are the two adults CBCs hanging around”? I spoke with birders on one bird site, and one woman said she’d had a similar experience. The adult CBC were very vocal making themselves known. Well this is exactly what is happening here in Alice Springs, when the Crows see them they dive bomb them (the adult CBCs) until they leave. It is all very interesting. This has been going on for a week, it seems to be a game of hide and seek. I wonder what the outcome will be? Another comment on the bird site said “Leave the babies at the creche and pick them up as teenagers”.

Apparently the adult CBC continue to hang around calling out to the juveniles, until they just follow the adults.

It’s now Saturday evening I heard the Torresian Crows calling out for it’s charge, there was no return call. Silly I know but I feel sad for the crows.

Several days have gone by and the Torresian Crow is still calling out for it’s foster bird, I hope it stops soon. 

So what will next year bring, the CBC will no doubt come again, will the now adult CBC recognise it’s foster parent? Will the cycle begin again? Will I become involved for the second time?

Well I suppose I’ll just wait and see. Could there be another blog here, I don’t think so. But never say never!!

For more info and images, check out the Fauna Index for the Channel-billed Cuckoo.


CBC… fostering | A Home Like Alice…