By CLARE CHAPMAN
CLARENCE VALLEY WIRES
OFTEN when Clarence Valley WIRES members are called to a rescue, they don't know what animal they are going to find.
So, when they received a call from a concerned member of the public in Lawrence a few months ago, local WIRES rescuer Tina Vitolins was lucky to be greeted by a rarely-sighted channel-billed cuckoo.
Normally a tall-tree dweller, it is a fascinating bird due to the fact it is parasitic and therefore raised by birds of a different species, rather than its real parents.
Its host parents, usually a larger species of bird such as magpies, currawongs, or crows, were unseen and as a result, the bird was taken into care for feeding and flight practise, before being released for its first long migratory flight, which for this species, takes them as far north as Papua New Guinea or Indonesia.
Adult channel-billed cuckoos arrive in Australia at the end of winter, early spring, from Papua New Guinea and beyond.
They leave to fly north around the end of March, and by that time, must have attained a weight of about 600g.
That was why the young channel-billed cuckoo needed to be placed in a large aviary ? to strengthen its wings and to make sure it could carry its heavy body over such a great distance.
Luckily, this rescue had a happy ending.
Local WIRES carer, Chris McConnell, was privileged to have fed and cared for this young channel-billed cuckoo and also to have released it into its native habitat among tall trees nearby.