Fun Fan-tailed Cuckoo Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Fan-tailed Cuckoo Facts For Kids

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Scientifically termed Cacomantis flabelliformis, fan-tailed cuckoos are residents of the tropical Solomon Islands and Fiji. These birds are commonly found in Australia, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Indonesia, and New Guinea during the breeding season. They are also partially migratory as vagrant populations have been recorded in New Zealand. The Australian breeding population can be traced abundantly throughout Cape York, Queensland, till Shark Bay, Western Australia. These birds can also be spotted in Tasmania.

Apart from its appearance, one of the defining characteristics of Cacomantis flabelliformis (fan-tailed cuckoo) is its long descending trill. The distinct call can be identified even from the depths of forests during the early summer and spring around the breeding season. The favorite prey of this bird species is the hairy caterpillar.

The genus name, Cacomantis, has been derived from the combination of the Greek terms 'cacos' and 'mantis' translating to bad and prophet, respectively. Did you know that the longest distance covered by the bird has been recorded at 251 mi (404 km)?

If you want to get acquainted with more than just the photos of the magnificent fan-tailed cuckoo, Australia or even New Guinea would be the perfect destination to stop by! Or just keep reading!

For more relatable content, check out these Amazon parrot facts and hummingbird facts for kids.

Fun Fan-tailed Cuckoo Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Small reptiles, birds, mammals, insects

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

1 mauve-white egg

How much do they weigh?

Around 0.09 lb (44 g)

How long are they?

9.8–10.6 in (25-27 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Dark slate-gray, rufous underparts with yellow eye ring

Skin Type


What were their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them?

Tropical, Subtropical, And Temperate Forests


Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Australia (northern Areas Like Northern Territories, Southern States Of Australia Like Tasmania)









Fan-Tailed Cuckoo Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a fan-tailed cuckoo?

The fan-tailed cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis), belonging to the Cuculidae family, is a species of bird and can be found in areas of Australia like Tasmania.

What class of animal does a fan-tailed cuckoo belong to?

Fan-tailed cuckoos have been incorporated in the Aves class and Cacomantis genus.

How many fan-tailed cuckoos are there in the world?

The accurate number of mature individuals in current existence lacks description as they have not been quantified. Nevertheless, the species is pretty common throughout its geographical range, and its population growth is stable with no recognized threats.

Where does a fan-tailed cuckoo live?

Places like Australia, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Indonesia, and New Guinea abound with these birds. These bird species can also be traced throughout South and south-western Western Australia, especially in Cape York, Shark Bay, and Tasmania.

Now, where does the adult fan-tailed cuckoo migrate to? Adult fan-tailed cuckoos leave their nest and join other cuckoos to migrate north outside the breeding season. A large part of the adult Australian population migrates to New Zealand.

What is a fan-tailed cuckoo's habitat?

The habitat of these birds encompasses open woodlands, forests, mangroves, shrubland, orchards, paddocks, as well as gardens. They can thrive in tropical, subtropical, and temperate climates.

Who do fan-tailed cuckoos live with?

The fan-tailed cuckoos normally flock together with several other migratory cuckoos when they migrate to the north. Also, they form pairs and look after the young post-breeding.

How long does a fan-tailed cuckoo live?

Exact details about the life expectancy of the fan-tailed cuckoos are still undeciphered. However, since the bird belongs to the cuckoo family, it might live up to 13 years like the other cuckoos.

How do they reproduce?

In Australia, the breeding season initiates from July and extends till January. A unique behavior of the fan-tailed cuckoos during this period is that, unlike most bird species, these birds do not construct their individual nests. They stealthily lay an egg in the nest site of other birds such as the thornbills or fairy-wrens. The nest is preferably dome-shaped. The clutch consists of only one mauve-white colored egg spotted with red or brown.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the fan-tailed cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis) is plentiful within its habitat range, thus qualifying the species to the Least Concern category.

Fan-Tailed Cuckoo Fun Facts

What do fan-tailed cuckoos look like?

The primary color of the fan-tailed cuckoo is dark slate-gray, which covers the back, wings, and head of the bird. It possesses rufous underparts while the tail is barred black and white. The most distinct feature of the bird is the bright yellow eye-ring that aids in its identification when contrasted with the appearance of the two similar species - the Chestnut-breasted cuckoo as well as the paler and smaller brush cuckoo. The young ones have paler coloration with a greenish eye-ring.

Fan-tailed cuckoo facts are about common birds of South Western Australia.

How cute are they?

Cuckoos are exquisite birds of nature. Additionally, their outgoing nature makes them all the more adorable. No doubt they're one of the most wanted pets!

How do they communicate?

Identification of the species becomes easier via a fan-tailed cuckoo sound. Apart from using gestures and body language, these birds also produce a plethora of calls and sounds to interact with others. Some calls sound like a descending trill or a 'peeeeer', a whistling 'p-whee', and also a loud 'chireee'. If you want to trace the bird in Australian forests, then stay alert for the fan-tailed cuckoo call.

How big is a fan-tailed cuckoo?

The average length of the fan-tailed cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis) is in the range of 9.8–10.6 in (25-27 cm). The species is smaller than the ravishing black cuckoo measuring around 12.2 in (31 cm).

How fast can a fan-tailed cuckoo fly?

Although the exact flight speed of these birds lacks description, migratory cuckoos, in general, have the reputation of being very strong flyers. These birds can cover long distances at a stretch. For instance, the speed limit of the greater roadrunner has been recorded at 26 mph (42 kph). The upper elevation limit of these birds is at 9,842.5 ft (3,000 m).

How much does a fan-tailed cuckoo weigh?

The approximate weight of the insect-feeding bird is 0.09 lb (44 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

A fan-tailed cuckoo male is called a cock, whereas a fan-tailed cuckoo female is regarded as a hen.

What would you call a baby fan-tailed cuckoo?

A baby fan-tailed cuckoo is referred to as a chick, nestling, or hatchling.

What do they eat?

The omnivorous species enjoy a sumptuous diet comprising small reptiles, birds, mammals, insects, as well as their larvae, coupled with vegetables and fruits. These birds are commonly spotted feeding primarily on hairy caterpillars, but their diet also includes spiders and centipedes.

Are they poisonous?

The species is nontoxic. These tropical birds are completely harmless when it comes to interactions with human beings. In fact, their approachable nature makes them one of the most cherished house pets.

Would they make a good pet?

Just like parrots, cuckoos are also known to make fabulous pets. They might also perch and enjoy feeding from your hands!

Did you know...

The fan-tailed cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis) has been classified into six subspecies, namely, Cacomantis flabelliformis meeki, Cacomantis flabelliformis excitus, Cacomantis flabelliformis simus, Cacomantis flabelliformis flabelliformis, Cacomantis flabelliformis schistaceigularis, and Cacomantis flabelliformis pyrrhophanus.

Australia is the native ground to innumerable cuckoo species. The largest Australian cuckoo is the Channel-billed cuckoo.

Are fan-tailed cuckoos endangered?

The fan-tailed cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis) has not been listed among the group of Endangered birds owing to its widespread population distribution throughout its geographical borders. However, several cuckoo species have entered the threshold of vulnerability, majorly due to unrestrained exploitative human activities contributing to diminishing forest cover, pollution, and climate change. Birds like the ground-dwelling Rufous-vented ground-cuckoo (Neomorphus geoffroyi) and the green-billed coucal (Centropus chlororhynchos) have been tagged as vulnerable with a declining population trend. Moreover, the population distribution of these birds has been severely affected.

What is special about fan-tailed cuckoos?

The most prominent feature of the fan-tailed cuckoos is the bright yellow eye-ring and the long, barred black and white tail. The fan-tailed cuckoo possesses a dark slate-gray back and rufous underparts. The orbital eye ring sets these birds apart from the smaller chestnut-breasted cuckoos (a similar species) who have gray upperparts and dark orange-brown underparts as well.

Cuckoos exhibit a peculiar behavior during the breeding season. The female birds do not set up their nest for birthing. They sneak into the nest of other birds (such as fairy-wrens and scarlet robins) and lay a mauve-white egg with red or brown spots.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our rook facts and flycatcher facts pages

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable bird coloring pages.


Second image by Lip Kee.

Written By
Moumita Dutta

<p>A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.</p>

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