Bird column: The Shining Bronze-Cuckoo

Bird song: The Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. Photo: Chris Tate - BirdLife Bunbury, Leschenault.

Bird song: The Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. Photo: Chris Tate - BirdLife Bunbury, Leschenault.

At this time of the year, people with attuned ears listening to bird calls about the suburbs of Bunbury-Leschenault may hear an unusual (don't laugh) "Swee-swee-swee", in an up-note, like a person whistling a dog.

This is the small Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. It has striped breast feathers, should you see it. However, its back feathers are an iridescence of dark green.

Then there is the slightly smaller and similar Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo, with its shy demeanour and gloriously striped chest feathers.

Not quite so attractive, it too is distinctive with its often repeated plaintive call announcing its return to breed in spring.

It too can be heard around Bunbury-Leschenault coming south on its migratory path.

It too can be heard now. It has a rather mournful whistle, "Tsew-tsew-tsew", similar to a Whistling Kite.

This bird is found across Australia. Those cuckoos go north to Indonesia during our summer.

These cuckoos lay their eggs in other birds' nests, and leave the chicks to be raised by the adopted parents.

The chicks have an in-built recognition of the original parents' call, and will join them later.

Quite unusual birds, they are smaller than Willie Wagtails. The little Bronze-Cuckoos head northwards in autumn but do not seem as vocal.

Other species of cuckoos can also be heard here around this time of the year.

The Rufous Whistler is also distinctive, with unmistakable calls. It can be heard in autumn and spring generally, moving throughout the district.

Its song is loud and strong, and one of its calls is like a builder's labourer giving a sheila a wolf whistle.

The male is a handsome bird, with its rufous belly and black chin-strap and pure white throat.

Another distinctive bird, perhaps heard and seen more frequently than the three above, is the Grey Fantail.

It is a trusting, pretty bird whose aerial antics are like those of a Willie Wagtail, as they catch insects "on the wing".

These are all insect-eating birds, and help to polish off the nuisance mosquito.

They illustrate the value of retaining the forest trees around us, and ensuring the understorey such as banksias and peppermints is kept intact.

These little birds help to keep nature in balance as well as bringing music to our ears.