Pheasant coucals (Centropus phasianinus) are all around my place – you can hear their strange call in spring, see them fly reluctantly across a paddock and, driving into town, see them lurch across the road. They seem to sit in wait at roadsides, see your car coming, think about it, then try to make it across in front of you. If you step on the brakes and avoid hitting them, they give you a coy look and scram into the grass as fast as they can – which is not terribly fast. They have a hesitant demeanour, as if they are trying to work out the best of a hundred possibilities for what to do next. Still, it must work, as you seldom see one squashed on the road. They are darned hard to photograph, though, as by the time you get your camera out, they’re gone.
Yesterday I saw one sunning itself across from the house. Fearful of making it take flight, I just clicked a few shots (heck, about 40) from inside the house in the hope that at least one of them would be good enough. Here’s the result …
Pheasant coucals are cuckoos, but build their own nests and raise their young themselves rather than having the traditional cuckoo habit of geting other species to do that for them. They form lasting pair-bonds, and the male incubates the eggs on a nest of sticks and grass on the ground. They eat insects, frogs, lizards, eggs and the young of birds.
They must love our place, with its thick grasses and lantana for protection. I’m glad to finally get a photo.