Shining Bronze-Cuckoo

Did you know?

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo chicks are blind and mostly naked when they hatch and their yolk-sack is still visible beneath their skin until they are about 4 days old. They eject the other contents of the host nest within 24 to 96 hours of hatching .

Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
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Breeding season: 
July to January
Conservation Status
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Shining Bronze-Cuckoo is a small cuckoo with irridescent green upper parts, white underparts with bold dark, mostly unbroken  barring , and a very white face with fine, dark mottling. It has no distinct white eye-brow nor dark eye-stripe and no reddish colour in wings and little or no reddish colour in its tail.

This bird can also be called Bronze Cuckoo, Broad-billed, Golden or New Zealand Bronze-Cuckoo, Greenback, Whistler or, in New Zealand, Shining Cuckoo.

Similar species: 

The Shining Bronze-Cuckoo is distinguishable from Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo, Chalcites basalis, which has a prominent white eyebrow and a contrasting dark eye stripe,  incomplete bars on its underparts  and it has a reddish colour under the tail. The Little Bronze-Cuckoo, C. minutillus,  has a broad eye-ring - bright red in males, greenish-white to olive-grey in females and a reddish area on its under-tail. Gould's Bronze-Cuckoo has a broad, striking eye-ring, a bronze irridesence on its upper parts and reddish areas elsewhere.

Where does it live?

The Shining Bronze-Cuckoo is found throughout south and eastern Australia from Cape York Peninsula around to the southern Eyre Peninsula. It is found in eastern Queensland and New South Wales . It is found throughout much of Victoria, in the south-east corner of South Australia and in the south-west of Western Australia from the western Great Australian Bight  around to Shark Bay. Outside Australia it is found  in the islands from the Lesser Sundas through New Guinea to the Solomons and Vanuatu, in New Zealand and Lord Howe, Norfolk and Chatham Islands.


The Shining Bronze-Cuckoo is found in quite a range of wooded habitats from lightly wooded  to rainforest, usually in the tree canopy. It is mostly found in eucalypt areas.

Seasonal movements: 

The Shining Bronze-Cuckoo is partly migratory. Some members of one subspecies migrate from breeding areas in New Zealand, Norfolk and Chatham Islands to South-West Pacific islands via eastern Australia. Another subspecies breeds in Tasmania, eastern Australia and south-west Australia and migrates as far north as New Guinea and the Lesser Sundas. Members of the other two subspecies are said to be sedentary, that is they stay in the same area all year. In New Zealand and southern Australia the birds breed  between winter and early summer and then migrate northwards. Between 10*S and 35*S, in eastern Australia, it seems that Shining Bronze-Cuckoos occur all year, and its not clear if they are sedentary or if some move north from here to be replaced by migrants from further south.

What does it do?

Shining Bronze-Cuckoos feed almost exclusively on insects and their larvae, especially hairy caterpillars (Lepidoptera). They usually forage in tree canopies. They have been observed to feed singly or in groups of up to five birds and have been observed feeding in groups with other birds.


Shining Bronze-Cuckoos lay their eggs from late July to early January, but mostly between mid-October and mid-December. They usually choose other bird's nests that are dome-shaped but will use open nests. They usually choose the nests of thornbills,  particularly those of Yellpow-rumped Thornbills in open farmland, and Brown Thornbills in forests. They will also use the nests of gerygones, scrubwrens,  and fairy-wrens. Amongst open nests they will choose those of honeyeaters  and robins. One egg is laid per host nest.  

Living with us

Numbers of the Shining Bronze-Cuckoo are reported to have declined in the Western Australian Wheatbelt since the 1940s. They are often killed upon flying into windows or lighthouses and are also killed by being hit by cars. They are sometimes eaten by cats.

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