Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Channel-billed Cuckoo (Scythrops novaehollandiae)


French: Coucou présageur German: Fratzenkuckuck Spanish: Cuco tucán

Scythrops novæ Hollandiæ


, 1790,

New South Wales, Australia


Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. n. fordi Mason, 1996 – Sulawesi, Banggai Is, Sula Is and Tukangbesi Group.
  • S. n. novaehollandiae Latham, 1790 – Moluccas (Buru), Lesser Sundas (Flores, Sumba) and N & E Australia; winters in lowland New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago and neighbouring islands, and perhaps E parts of Wallacea.
  • S. n. schoddei Mason, 1996 – Bismarck Archipelago (New Britain, Duke of York)#R#R.
  • Possible breeding population in S New Guinea, where recorded in all months, but no proven data#R#R.

    Descriptive notes

    60 cm; male 604 g, female 623 g. The largest brood-parasitic bird. Adult grey above with black spots, head grey, tail grey with subterminal black band and white tip; light... read more


    Loud, raucous, repeated hoarse “gaak”, also a rapidly repeated high nasal series, and a... read more


    Canopy trees at edge of forest or along river, other open woodlands with tall trees and especially... read more

    Food and feeding

    Fruit, especially figs; also insects, including stick insects, beetles and locusts. Young in nest of currawongs (Strepera) are... read more


    Breeds Feb–Jun in N Sulawesi, Oct–Nov in SE Australia, Nov–Jan in Kimberley Division, Oct–Jan in Queensland.... read more


    Migratory and seasonal in Australia, where appears first on N coast; passage migrant through Torres... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Uncommon in much of its range in Australia, and scarce in Northern Territory. Abundant in New Britain in winter. Noisy and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2019). Channel-billed Cuckoo (Scythrops novaehollandiae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 December 2019).