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A photo of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis)
Fan-tailed Cuckoo

Fan-tailed Cuckoo

Cacomantis flabelliformis

The fan-tailed cuckoo, known scientifically as Cacomantis flabelliformis, is a medium-sized bird measuring approximately 25 to 27 centimeters in length. It boasts a slate-grey plumage on its head, back, and wings, while its underparts are a striking rufous color. The tail is notably barred with black and white, and the bird's eye is encircled by a distinctive yellow orbital ring.

Identification Tips

To distinguish the fan-tailed cuckoo from its relatives, look for the yellow eye ring which sets it apart from the smaller and paler brush cuckoo and the chestnut-breasted cuckoo, which is also smaller in size.


This species is quite adaptable, residing in temperate forests, subtropical or tropical mangrove forests, and moist montane forests. It is also known to frequent human-altered landscapes such as paddocks, orchards, and gardens.


The fan-tailed cuckoo is widespread, found across Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. In Australia, its range spans from Cape York in Queensland to Shark Bay in Western Australia, with a presence in Tasmania as well.


Breeding season for the fan-tailed cuckoo in Australia occurs from July to January. Exhibiting brood parasitism, it lays a single mauve white egg, adorned with red and/or brown spots, in the nests of other bird species such as fairywrens or thornbills, favoring domed-shaped nests.


The fan-tailed cuckoo is known for its perching behavior, often sitting in exposed locations to scout for prey. Upon spotting a potential meal, it swiftly pounces, capturing its target mid-air or on the ground.

Song & Calls

The vocalizations of the fan-tailed cuckoo can be described as a descending trill, accompanied by a grasshopper-like chirp, adding a unique chorus to the sounds of the wilderness.

Diet and Feeding

A versatile feeder, the fan-tailed cuckoo's diet includes insects and their larvae, fruits, vegetables, and occasionally small reptiles, mammals, and bird chicks.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the fan-tailed cuckoo as "Least Concern." The species benefits from a broad distribution and a presumed large population, with no significant threats currently identified. Even with a potential downward trend in population numbers, the rate is not alarming enough to warrant a higher threat category.

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Fan-tailed Cuckoos on Birda


More Cuckoos

A photo of a Plaintive Cuckoo (Cacomantis merulinus) , male

Plaintive Cuckoo

Cacomantis merulinus
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