The monkeys are back, the figs are loaded.
Not really – the Channel-billed Cuckoos are back. Even at night they are high in the trees squawking and wheezing like monkeys. For some reason I am able to sleep through their wheezy laughs whereas I find the Koel’s call to be much more piercing.
Each year they come to our property because they adore figs and we have figs in abundance – they particularly like the figs on the Ficus benjamina var. comosa, the Ficus virens, and our many Ficus rubiginosa. From the outline of its beak in the above photo it is obvious why this bird is also called a Fig Hawk.
They stay here during their breeding season and lay their eggs in crows’ nests. So we are very glad to have a large crow population.
In 2014 they arrived on 15th Sept,
in 2013 on 10th Sept,
in 2012 on 6th Sept,
and in 2011 on 1st Sept.
Does this mean there is a trend for them to become progressively later? I’ll need to keep records for a lot longer to find out.
They generally migrate back to PNG or Indonesia in March.
They arrive just before the Ficus virens loses its leaves and a week later explodes into vibrant pale green in the first week of October.
The Ficus benjamina var. comosa [Willow Fig or Java Fig] becomes heavily laden by mid-October with plump round orange figs. While the cuckoos await these figs they gorge themselves with mulberries from the tree on the driveway.