WHAT A WEIRD BIRD: WIRES Northern Rivers recently rescued this very strange looking chick, later identified as a channel-billed cuckoo.
WHAT A WEIRD BIRD: WIRES Northern Rivers recently rescued this very strange looking chick, later identified as a channel-billed cuckoo. WIRES Northern Rivers

'Strange-looking' chick nearly ready for release

IS THIS the strangest-looking bird you have ever seen?

Earlier this month, WIRES received a call that a "very large, strange-looking" chick had been rescued near Casino.

WIRES said the chick was found sitting in the middle of a rural road near Casino on February 2, and had narrowly avoided being run over by a large truck when a motorist stopped to rescue it.

The bird was identified as a channel-billed cuckoo, the largest brood parasite bird in the world.

The channel-billed cuckoo lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, such as the Australian magpie, the pied currawong, and members of the crow family.

The WIRES volunteer went to the site of rescue in search of the chick's surrogate parents or nest, and unfortunately the chick was not able to be reunited with its host parents.

WIRES said the chick has grown "well" in care, having doubled its weight in the first eight days.

After less than four weeks in care, WIRES said the chick is already self-feeding and building up its flight strength in a large WIRES flight aviary before release.

Once released, the chick will migrate thousands of kilometres north.

As an adult the channel-billed cuckoo is mainly a fruit eater, but as a chick the currawong and crow diet is perfect for this large bird species, which has a wingspan of approximately 1 metre when fully-grown.

WIRES said the strange-looking species arrives in northern and eastern Australia in spring from New Guinea and Indonesia, and can fly as far south as Sydney.

In autumn the species leaves Australia, flying the thousands of kilometres back as far north as Celebes and eastward to the Bismarck Archipelago.



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