Pacific long-tailed cuckoo

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Long-tailed cuckoo
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Cuculiformes
Family: Cuculidae
Genus: Urodynamis
Vigors & Horsfield, 1826
U. taitensis
Binomial name
Urodynamis taitensis
(Sparrman, 1787)

Cuculus taitensis
Eudynamys taitensis

The Pacific long-tailed cuckoo (Urodynamis taitensis), also known as the long-tailed cuckoo, long-tailed koel, or the koekoeā in Māori, is a species of the Cuculidae bird family (the cuckoos). It is a migratory bird that spends spring and summer in New Zealand, its only breeding place, and spends winter in the Pacific islands. It is a brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nests of other bird species and leaving them to raise its chicks.


Urodynamis taitensis is most closely related to the channel-billed cuckoo (Scythrops novaehollandiae), which lives in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, according to Sorenson and Payne (2005).[2] Accordingly it is not part of the Eudynamys genus (the true koels), with which it has previously been placed.


The long-tailed cuckoo breeds only in New Zealand, where it is resident in the warmer months, from early October until February or March, sometimes April and occasionally later.[3] For winter it migrates to islands right across the southern Pacific. It is found year round on the Kermadec Islands, the Norfolk Island group and the Lord Howe Island group, which are subtropical islands part way between the New Zealand mainland and the tropical Pacific Islands.[4] The spread of its winter distribution is extraordinarily wide, stretching almost 11,000 km from Palau in the west to Pitcairn Island.[4] Over most of its winter range, it is known by the same indigenous name, kārewarewa (or local variations of this). In spring, the bird's routes of migration would almost certainly have served to guide the Polynesian ancestors of Māori to find New Zealand.[5][6]

In New Zealand the cuckoos live mainly in native forest, particularly up in the canopy. They also live in exotic pine plantations, scrub, cultivated land and suburban gardens. In the Pacific islands they live in lowland forest, gardens and coconut plantations. Individuals are usually solitary.[3]

The species is a brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nests of Mohoua species mostly – whiteheads (M. albicilla) in the North Island and yellowheads (M. ochrocephala) and brown creepers (M. novaeseelandiae) in the South Island. The eggs hatch before those of the host and the young chicks eject the eggs of the host. Long-tailed cuckoo chicks are able to mimic the calls of their host's chicks.

The cuckoo eats mostly insects. It also eats bird eggs and nestling birds, adult birds as large as sparrows, New Zealand bellbirds and thrushes, and lizards.[3]


  1. ^ "Urodynamis taitensis". International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Retrieved 2014-12-31.
  2. ^ Sorenson, Michael D.; Payne, Robert B. (2005). "A molecular genetic analysis of cuckoo phylogeny". In Payne, Robert B. The Cuckoos. Oxford University Press. p. 93. ISBN 0-19-850213-3.
  3. ^ a b c Cunningham, J.M. (1985). "Long-tailed Cuckoo". Reader's Digest Complete Book of New Zealand Birds. p. 255. ISBN 0474000486.
  4. ^ a b Gill, B.J.; Hauber, Mark E. (2012). "Piecing together the epic transoceanic migration of the Long-tailed Cuckoo (Eudynamys taitensis): an analysis of museum and sighting records". Emu - Austral Ornithology. 112 (4): 328. doi:10.1071/MU12022.
  5. ^ Crowe, Andrew (2018). Pathway of the Birds: The Voyaging Achievements of Māori and their Polynesian Ancestors. Auckland: David Bateman Ltd. pp. 106, 149, 150.
  6. ^ Taonui, Rāwiri (8 February 2005). "Canoe navigation – Locating land". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  • Davies, N. (2000). Cuckoos, Cowbirds and Other Cheats. T & A D Poyser, London, ISBN 0-85661-135-2