Long tailed cuckoo locations

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Ben Volpicelli
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Long tailed cuckoo locations

Postby Ben Volpicelli » Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:17 pm

Hi everyone, as we all know the cuckoo's have started to arrive back in NZ, and this leaves me with a question, where are the best places to hear/see Long Tailed Cuckoos in the lower North Island (Wellington region)? I have had success over the years with shining cuckoos but have yet to hear or see LT Cuckoos in my local area (Karori), I have no doubt that they will eventually find their way to Zealandia with its thriving whitehead population but as of yet there have been no sightings. Your help would be much appreciated!

Thanks
Ben!
Colin Miskelly
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Re: Long tailed cuckoo locations

Postby Colin Miskelly » Sat Sep 29, 2018 8:55 am

Hi Ben

You have touched on an interesting question - namely why long-tailed cuckoos aren't breeding in Zealandia (or on Tiritiri Matangi, or any of the ten or so other sites that whiteheads have been successfully translocated to). The cuckoos can and do (occasionally) reach these sites, and so individual cuckoos would discover that they are full of potential hosts. But there is not yet a single record of long-tailed cuckoos breeding at a host translocation site. They must be incredibly philopatric to their natal sites, which is quite extraordinary for such an ultra-long distance migrant. It will be a conservation milestone achieved when long-tailed cuckoos are found breeding at a restoration site.

The situation is more complex in the South Island, where most mohua release sites had resident brown creeper, and so long-tailed cuckoos were already present. But another unknown with long-tailed cuckoos is whether they have separate gentes that specialise in different hosts. Will a 'brown creeper' cuckoo lay in a mohua nest? with the added complication that mohua are hole-nesters (cf. brown creepers and whiteheads having open cup nests), and so laying an egg in a mohua nest requires specialised behaviour on the part of the female cuckoo (and a thick-shelled egg).

Cheers
Colin
Ben Volpicelli
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Re: Long tailed cuckoo locations

Postby Ben Volpicelli » Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:57 am

Thanks Colin, very interesting. Thanks for that information.

Cheers
Ben
Jim_j
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Re: Long tailed cuckoo locations

Postby Jim_j » Sat Sep 29, 2018 1:23 pm

About time some serious research was done on this species - surely there is a science grad out there somewhere up for a real challenge.
Hard to spot, semi nocturnal and not much research to go on!
Translocation of some eggs from kapitI to a host (volunteer of course...) in Zealand is???
Locations in Wellington- heard them at holdsworth and otaki forks and kapit Island

Cheers Jim
Ben Volpicelli
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Re: Long tailed cuckoo locations

Postby Ben Volpicelli » Sat Sep 29, 2018 3:01 pm

Thanks Jim and Colin, yes it would be very interesting to do reasurch on LT Cuckoos, and as you said it would also be quite challenging! Thankyou
Ben
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Oscar Thomas
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Re: Long tailed cuckoo locations

Postby Oscar Thomas » Sat Sep 29, 2018 4:09 pm

I was told by Tim Lovegrove (I think) that a LT cuckoo chick was found at Tawharanui Regional Park in Auckland, where Whiteheads have been translocated.
https://www.instagram.com/oscarkokako/ - NZ List (205) Glossy Ibis, Hauraki, Waikato
Jim_j
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Re: Long tailed cuckoo locations

Postby Jim_j » Sat Sep 29, 2018 7:40 pm

Thanks Oscar that's very interesting perhaps the lack of sightings in other areas where whitehead have been introduced just reflects LTCs cryptic behaviour and overall low numbers
Cheers Jim
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Nikki McArthur
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Re: Long tailed cuckoo locations

Postby Nikki McArthur » Sun Sep 30, 2018 2:53 pm

An interesting counterpoint to Colin's point that LTC don't apparently seem to have 'found' recently reintroduced whitehead populations is that they might not also figure out when they've permanently 'lost' their host population.

LTCs are fairly conspicuous at higher altitudes on GBI each summer, and calling rates seem fairly uniform throughout this summer, giving me the impression that these birds are resident rather than passing through. But...whiteheads aren't present on GBI. So, are these LTC parasitising another species on GBI (and if so, what?), or have they not figured out that there are no local whitehead nests to find?
Jim_j
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Re: Long tailed cuckoo locations

Postby Jim_j » Sun Sep 30, 2018 4:20 pm

Interesting point - how long have whitehead been gone from GBI (I assume Gt Barrier?) - I'm guessing 70s or 80s - if they haven't got another host (which seems very unlikely) then that assumes a very long life span?
I guess they could use hosts on say LBI then just migrate out to GBI to feed?
Just shows how little anyone knows about these birds.
Cheers Jim
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Nikki McArthur
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Re: Long tailed cuckoo locations

Postby Nikki McArthur » Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:32 pm

Yes sorry, GBI = Great Barrier Island. Whiteheads may have disappeared fairly early on - they were recorded by Hutton in 1898, but apparently not since. They were apparently still on Rakitu Island around 1964 (Bell & Braithwaite), but don't seem to have been recorded there since either.

So, whiteheads probably died out on GBI well beyond a LTC's lifespan-ago, which points to a possibility that this local population has found an alternate host, or the birds are just 'visiting' as you say Jim. If the birds are highly philopatric to their natal sites, then its perhaps unlikely that GBI is acting as a habitat trap (i.e. birds are being attracted to suitable forest habitat, but not figuring out that their host is absent), as you'd assume their 'homing' instinct would override the attractiveness of any forest habitat they happen to pass through, or over.

Another thought I had about Colin's observation that LTCs are absent from sites to which whiteheads have been re-introduced: If they are highly philopatric, then it would be interesting to try a LTC translocation - by harvesting LTC eggs from parasitised nests at a mainland source site and fostering them into whitehead nests at the reintroduction site. It would be fiendishly difficult to do, but a great challenge! Or...an alternative option might be to set up speakers to broadcast LTC calls to try to entice passage birds in.... Or maybe just wait for them to find the place themselves...

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