Pre-Dawn Call - What Bird?

12 posts / 0 new
Last post
Pre-Dawn Call - What Bird?

Hi everyone.

I live in Canberra, and my apartment backs on to a wooded (eucalypt) open urban area. Pre-dawn, around this time of year, I hear a call echo-ing through the trees and can't find anything like it in multiple searches of the internet.

The call is a continuous, descending note that sounds quite mournful. It seems to occur just before dawn (before all the other birds begin)....and ceases when the other birds begin to wake up and make their own racket!

It is very similar in pitch and tone to a currawong, but not the staccato of a currawong, just a single drawn-out descending note, repeated after 4 or 5 seconds of silence.

I'd love to know what it is. It's a lovely thing to lie in bed and listen to before the madness of the day begins!



GregL's picture

Might be a pied butcherbird, they have a range of calls and start quite early.

Woko's picture

Horsefield's Bronze Cuckoo?

rawshorty's picture

Check Eastern Koel, it would not likely be a Pied Butcherbird in Canberra, Very rare in the A.C.T. and when seen usually outside of Canberra.

Shorty......Canon gear


HelloBirdy's picture

rawshorty wrote:

Check Eastern Koel, it would not likely be a Pied Butcherbird in Canberra, Very rare in the A.C.T. and when seen usually outside of Canberra.

A bit early for koels right now though

Aiming for DSLR-quality shots with a bridge camera

Log Runner
Log Runner's picture

Pied Currawongs also have a descending whistle that they make pre-dawn. There was thread on this not so long ago which had a recording that you might want to check.

Log Runner
Log Runner's picture

This is the thread with Pied Currawong call i was thinking of:

Is that the one you are hearing?


Not quite the one in the recording Log Runner, but closer than anything else I've heard.

Definitely not an Eastern Koel, they have a rising note, and a different (deeper) tone. I hear them here too, but they haven't been around over the winter.

I think I'll just assume it's a Currawong. Lots of them about these parts.

Canonguy's picture

Fan-tailed Cuckoo have a mournful downward spiralling trill-type call. 

They also have a nice whistle, so make sure you listen to all FTC calls. Try zeno-canto for starters. 

Something like this? Try the fifth down the list by Marc Anderson from Newnes Plateau. 


No it's not trill Canon Guy. And that bird has a higher pitched sound.

On reflection I'm almost 100% sure it's a Currawong. Same voice, but not a pattern that's recorded or shown on the internet.

Maybe inland has another sub-species.

Canonguy's picture

If you have a smart phone, perhaps record it as an mp3 file or a video then convert to mp3 and upload here. 

I tend to record stuff I am unfamiliar with and it's surprising how good a silly smart phone can pick up calls. 

zoidberg's picture

Does it sound like this?

Call at about 6 and 14 seconds and at the end. You might have to crank up the volume)

Youtube at

 and   @birdsinbackyards
                 Subscribe to me on YouTube