Other names:Koekoeā, kohoperoa, long-tailed koel
Threat category:At Risk: Naturally Uncommon ?
Regions:Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Manawatu-Wanganui, Taranaki, Wellington, Nelson-Tasman, Marlborough, Westcoast, Canterbury, Otago, Southland
Distribution:Locally in indigenous and plantation forestry of the North and South Island
- Long-tailed cuckoo are signficantly larger than a blackbird, and have a very long tail with dark brown bands.
- Usually detected by their long, drawn out screech or loud whistle which slurs upwards. The species is most often heard rather than seen.
- Long-tailed cuckoo are migratory, leaving New Zealand in January-March to spend the winter in the tropical Pacific from Micronesia to French Polynesia and returning to New Zealand in October.
- The long-tailed cuckoo is a ‘brood parasite’: it lays its eggs in the nests of whiteheads in the North Island, and brown creepers and yellowheads in the South Island. The cuckoo’s eggs hatch before those of the host, and the young cuckoo chicks eject the host eggs.
- The diet consists mainly of large invertebrates such as weta, stick insects, spiders, beetles and bugs. However, skinks, geckos, small birds, eggs, berries and fruit are also eaten.
Association with Plantations
- Long-tailed cuckoo frequently occur in plantation forestry when there is a presence of whitehead or brown creeper; for example, on the Volcanic Plateau, north-west Nelson, and west of Dunedin.
- Loss of host species, which has occurred in large parts of New Zealand. For example, whiteheads are no longer found in Northland and Auckland and yellowheads are extremely rare, now only occurring in a few isolated populations in the South Island.
- Predation of eggs and young of cuckoo (and host species) by rats, stoats and other predators.
- Loss of subtropical and tropical rainforest in their overwintering habitat may also be an issue.
Management Options and Methods
- Increase staff and contractor awareness about long-tailed cuckoos.
- Protect indigenous vegetation, including corridors and riparian habitat for host species. These areas will provide refuge during harvesting and access to other habitat.
- Consider reintroductions of host species to former range, e.g. whiteheads to Northland/Auckland. Consult DOC and local iwi to get advice and consent.
- Monitor host species as well as cuckoos.
Further Information and Support
- New Zealand Birds Online: long-tailed cuckoo.
- Hanford P. 2000: Native Forest Monitoring. A Guide for Forest Owners and Managers. Refer to kereru.
- Heather and Robertson 2000. Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand.
- Predator control, monitoring and translocation protocols – Department of Conservation.