CUCKOOS and their Allies

Order Cuculiformes   Family Cuculidae

In addition to cuckoos, the cuckoo family Cuculidae also includes the roadrunners, koels, malkohas, couas, coucals and anis. The coucals and anis are sometimes separated as distinct families. The cuckoos are generally medium sized slender birds. The majority are of the cuculidae family are arboreal, with a sizeable minority that are terrestrial. Most are tropical and the temperate species are migratory. The cuckoos feed on insects, insect larva, as well as fruit. Many species are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other species, but the majority of species raise their own young. Cuckoos are medium sized birds that range in size from 15-63 cm. There is generally little sexual dimorphism in size, but where it exists, it can be either the male or the female that is larger. There are two basic body forms, arboreal species which are slender and have short tarsi, and terrestrial species which are more heavy set and have long tarsi. Almost all species have long tails which are used for steering in terrestrial species and as a rudder during flight in the arboreal species.

The turacos have also been consider part of the Cuculiformes order, but they may be placed in their own order Musophagiformes.



OLD WORLD - Brood Parasitic

Brood parasitic birds lay their eggs in other species' nests. Most only parasitize a single host species or a small group of closely related host species. They tend to remove a host egg when they lay one of their own in a nest. This both prevents the host species from realizing their nest has been parasitized and reduces competition for the parasitic nestling once it hatches. Some brood parasites will eliminate all their nestmates shortly after hatching. If the host removes a parasitic egg or chick, the adult parasitic birds may retaliate by destroying the nest.

The Old World brood parastic species tend to conform to the classic shape, with (usually) long tails, short legs, long narrow wings and an arboreal lifestyle. The largest species, the channel-billed cuckoo, also has the most outsized bill in the family, resembling that of a hornbill.


Genus Cacomantis
The genus name is derived from the Greek kakos meaning evil or ill-boding and mantis for prophet and is derived from their association with "rains" being supposed to be predict ill fortune and bad weather. Most of them have a round nostril and are mainly in brown and gray colo rs. The tails are graduated and barred.

Cuckoo, Banded Bay  Cacomantis sonneratii  Found: southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Phillippines
The Banded Bay Cuckoo has brown and rufous upperparts; light underparts with dark brown barring; whitish supercilium; dark eye-line.
Image by: 1) Sandeep Gangadharan  2) Vil.Sandi


Cuckoo, Brush  Cacomantis variolosus  Found: east coast Australia, northen New Guinea
The Brush Cuckoo is gray-brown with a buff breast.
Image by: 1, 3) Aviceda - Kobble Creek, SE Queensland, Australia  2) David Cook - Wamboin, NSW, Australia
1) Juvenile 2) Female 3) Male


Cuckoo, Chestnut-breasted  Cacomantis castaneiventri   Found: Australia, New Guinea
Image by: 1) Tom Tarrant - northern Australia  2) Jerry Oldenettel - Papua New Guinea


Cuckoo, Fan-tailed  Cacomantis flabelliformis  Found: Australasia
The Fan-tailed Cuckoo has dark gray upperparts; buff underparts; barred black-and-white undertail; yellow eye-ring.
Image by: 1) JJ Harrison - Tasmania, Australia  2) Aviceda - Dayboro, SE Queensland, Australia
    3) Yip Kee Yap at Jerrara Dam, NSW, Australia  4, 5, 6) David Cook



Cuckoo, Gray-bellied  Cacomantis passerinus  Found: Indian subcontinent, Myanmar
The Gray0-bellied Cuckoo has mainly gray plumage with paler underparts. Some females are are of the hepatic form, which is dark-barred reddish brown upperparts; unbarred tail; strongly dark-barred whitish underparts.
Image by: 1) David Cook - Sri Lanka  2) Thimindu Goonatillake - India  3, 4) Nagesh Kamath - southern India


Cuckoo, Moluccan  Cacomantis heinrichi  Found: Indonesia
Image by: 1) Paulo Alves   2, 3) Pete Morris


Cuckoo, Pallid  Cacomantis pallidus  also  Cuculus pallidus  Found: Australasia
The Pallid Cuckoo has gray upperparts; light gray head, nape; pale underparts; yellow eye-ring.
Image by: 1) Oystercatcher  2) David Cook  3)  Aviceda  


Cuckoo, Plaintive  Cacomantis merulinus  Found: southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines
The male Plantive Cuckoo has gray-brown upperparts; gray head, throat, upper-breast; orange rest of underparts. Female and juvenile reddish-brown upperparts with barring; paler underparts with fainter barring. It is a brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nests of cisticolas, prinias and tailorbirds. The eggs are similar to those of the host species but are larger. Small birds often mob the cuckoo to drive it away from their nests.
Image by: 1) JM Garg - India  2) Ron Knight - Thailand  3, 5) Charles Lam - Hong Kong  4) Arie Frahman - Indonesia
1) Juvenile 2) Female 3, 4, 5) Male



Genus Chrysococcyx

Cuckoo, African Emerald  Chrysococcyx cupreus  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Bio Diversity Library  2) James St John  3) Ian White


Cuckoo, Asian Emerald  Chrysococcyx maculatus  Found: Asia
Image by: 1) JJ Harrison - Thailand  2, 3) Somchai Kanchanasut - Rama IX Park, Bangkok, Thailand
1, 2) Female  3) Male


Cuckoo, Black-eared  Chrysococcyx osculans  Found: Australasia
The Black-eared Cuckoo has gray upperparts; gray white-tipped tail; dark ear; whitish throat, supercilium.
Image by: 1) Aviceda - Bowra, SW Queensland, Australia  2, 3) David Cook


Cuckoo, Dideric  also  Diederik Cuckoo  Chrysococcyx caprius  Found: Africa
The Dideric Cuckoo has green upperparts with copper-sheened areas on the back;  whitish underparts; broken white eye-line; green mouchauchial stripe.
Image by: 1) Dick Daniels - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya  2) Ian White - Garborone 
   3) Peter Steward - Kenya  4) Frik Erasmus  5) Lip Kee - Botswana
2) Juvenile



Cuckoo, Horsfield's Bronze-  Chrysococcyx basaliFound: Asia, Australasia<
The Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo has bronze sheen on back; brown cap; incomplete bronze bars on whitish underparts; black-and-white undertail with rufous center; pale supercilium; dark brown eye-stripe.
Similar to: Little Bronze Cuckoo. Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo has dark eye-line; Little Bronze-Cuckoo doe not.
Image by:  1, 2) Aviceda - Capertee Valley, NSW, Australia 
    3, 4) David Cook - West Macgregor, ACT, Australia and Wamboin, NSW, Australia.


Cuckoo, Klass's  Chrysococcyx klaas  Found: Africa
The male Klaas's Cuckoo has glossy green upperparts; white underparts. Female has bronze-brown uppperparts; greenish wing coverts; faintly barred pale underparts.
Image by:  1, 3, 4) Jose Mochoge - Kenya  2) Lip Kee Yap - Mpumalanga, South Africa  4) Carol Foil - Archers Post, Rift Valley, Kenya
1, 2, 3, 4) Female   5) Male


Cuckoo, Little Bronze-  Chrysococcyx minutillus  Found: Asia, Australasia
The Little Bronze-Cuckoo has bronze upperparts; white underparts with bronze dashed lines; red eye-ring and eyes (male); light eye-ring and brown eyes (female); white supercilium.
Similar to: Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo. Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo has dark eye-line; Little Bronze-Cuckoo doe not.
Image by:  1) Aviceda - Kobble Creek, SE Queensland, Australia 
    2) Lip Kee Yap - Howard Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
    3) David Cook - Cairns, Far North Queensland, Australia


Cuckoo, Long-billed  Chrysococcyx megarhynchus also  Rhamphomantis megarhynchus  Found: New Guinea
The male Long-billed Cuckoo has dark brown upperparts; black head; red eye-ring; grayish-brown underparts. Female has dark cinnamon upperparts; dark gary-brown head; cinnamon lower-breast; rufous-buff belly with fine barring.
Image by: 1) Jerry Oldenettel - Papua New Guinea


Cuckoo, Rufous-throated Bronze-
  Chrysococcyx ruficollis  Found:New Guinea
The Rufous-throated Bronze-Cuckoo has green upperparts; rufous forehead, face; barred white and green underparts.
Image by: 1) Nigel Voaden


Cuckoo, Shining-Bronze-  Chrysococcyx lucidus  Found: Australasia
The Shining Bronze-Cuckoo has bronze upperparts; white underparts with complete bronze bars; black bill. The world's smallest cuckoo.
Image by: 1) JJ Harrison - Bronze_Tasmania Australia  2) Aviceda - Dayboro, SE Queensland, Australia


Cuckoo, Violet  Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus  Found: southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia,Philppines
The male Violet Cuckoo has glossy violet upperparts, head, chin, breast; violet belly with white bars; red eye-ring. Female has mottled greenish-bronze upperparts; dark brown crown; greenish-bronze beely with white bars.
Image by: 1) KesavamurthyN  2) Sergey Yeliseev  3) Francesco Veronesi


Cuckoo, White-eared Bronze-
  Chrysococcyx meyeri(iFound: New Guinea
Image by: 1) Jerry Oldenettel


Cuckoo, Yellow-throated  Chrysococcyx flavigularis  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Joseph Smit  2) Michael and Helen Cox



Genus Clamator
All Clamator cuckoos are brood parasites, which lay a single egg in the nests of medium sized hosts, such as magpies, starlings, shrikes, laughingthrushes, bulbuls and babblers, depending on location. Clamator cuckoos are found in warmer parts of southern Europe and Asia, and in Africa south of the Sahara Desert. These are birds of warm open scrubby habitats, but some species are at least partially migratory, leaving for warmer and wetter areas in winter.These are large cuckoos, with broad chestnut wings and long narrow tails. They are strikingly patterned with black, white and brown plumage. The sexes are similar but the juvenile plumages are distinctive.

Cuckoo, Chestnut-winged  Clamator coromandus  Found: southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines
The Chestnut-winged Cuckoo has dark glossy upperparts, tail; black head with a long crast; chestnut wings;  rufous throat; dusky underparts; white half collar.
Image by: 1) Vijay Ismavel  2) Sandeep Gangadharan


Cuckool, Great-spotted  Clamator glandarius  Found: southwest Europe, western Asia
The Great-spotted Cuckoo chick emits a repellant that helps protect it and the host chicks from predators.
Image by: 1) Eran Finkle  2) Johann du Preez 3) Francesco Veronesi - Spain 
1) Juvenile


Cuckoo, Pied   also   Jacobian Cuckoo  Clamator jacobinus  Found: Africa, Asia
The Pied Cuckoo has black upperpart, caps; white underpart, patch on  wings.
Image by: 1) Shantanu Kuveskar  2) Kosky Koshy  3) Srihari Kulkarni


Cuckoo, Levaillant's  Clamator levaillantii   Found: Africa
The Levaillant's Cuckoo has black upperparts, crest; white wing patch, end of tail; pale underparts with black streaks on breast.
Image by: 1, 2) Derek Keats - South Africa   3) Ian White - Botswana



Genus Cuculus
These Old World cuckoos lay a single egg in the host's nest. The cuckoo chick hatches earlier and grows faster than the host's chicks. It usually evicts the host's eggs or chicks from the nest. These are vocal species, with persistent and loud calls. They feed on large insects, with hairy caterpillars, which are distasteful to many birds.

Cuckoo, African  Cuculus gularis  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Bernard Dupont - South Africa  2) Ian White - Zimbabwe  3) Alastair Rae - Namibia


Cuckoo, Black  Cuculus clamosus  Found: Africa
The Black Cuckoo plumage varies by subspecies. Some are almost entirely black; some may have white buff on chest; some may have red breast; black and white barring on belly.
Image by: 1) Ken Clifton - Tanzania  2, 4) Ian White - South Africa  3) Sergei Golyshev - Tanzania 
4) Black Cuckoo chick with Crimson-breasted Shrike.


Cuckoo, Common  Cuculus canorus  Found: Europe, Asia, Africa
The Common Cuckoo has gray upperparts; pale underparts with dark bars; dark wings.
Image by: 1) Steve Garvie - Scotland  2) Vogelartinfo  3) Cristiano Crolle - West Coast National Park, South Africa


Cuckoo, Himalayan
  Cuculus saturatus   Found: Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines
The male Himalayan Cuckoo has gray upperparts, head, breast; creamy-white belly with dark bars. Female own has reddish-brown upperparts with barring; paler on underparts with barring.
Similar to: Oriental Cuckoo. Himalayan Cuckoo slightly smaller than Oriental Cuckoo and has slightly shorter wings.


Cuckoo, Indian  Cuculus micropterus  Found: Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines
The Indian Cuckoo has gray upperparts; pale underparts with black barring; yellow to gray eye-ring; barred tail with white tip. The Indian cuckoo is a brood parasite. It lays its single egg mostly in the nests of drongos and crows. It removes and eats an egg from the host nest before laying its own. During the third or fourth day, the young bird bends its back when touched and heaves out other eggs or nestlings.
Image by; 1, 2, 3) Vijay Ismavel - India


Cuckoo, Lesser
  Cuculus poliocephalus  Found: Asia, Africa
Image by: 1) Ron Knight  2) Pseudolapiz


Cuckoo, Madagascar  Cuculus rochii  Found: Africa, Madagascar
Image by: 1) Alphonse Dubois  2) Louise Jasper - Madagascar


Cuckoo, Oriental  Cuculus optatus   Found: Asia (including Japan), Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Australia
The male Oriental Cuckoo has gray upperparts, head, breast; creamy-white belly with dark bars. Female has two morphs. One similar to male  with brownish wash to breast. Other has reddish-brown upperparts with barring; paler on underparts with barring.
Similar to: Common Cuckoo. Oriental Cuckoo has yellow eye-ring; Common Cuckoo does not.
Similar to: Himalayan Cuckoo. Himalayan Cuckoo slightly smaller than Oriental Cuckoo and has slightly shorter wings.
Image by: 1) Judith Lukin-Amundsen - Australia 2) Alex White - Taiwan  3) Tom Tarrant - Australia 4) Hiyashi Haka 


Cuckoo, Red-chested  Cuculus solitarius  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Dick Daniels - specimen in Nairobi National Museum, Kenya  2, 3) Arno Meintjes   4) Monkey Boy



Genus Eudynamys
These cuckoos are found in Asia, Australia, and the Pacific.

Koel, Asian  also  Common Koel  Eudynamys scolopaceus  Found: south and southeas Asia, China 
The Asian Koel is a large cuckoo. The male has a glossy blue-black body; pale greenish-gray bill; dark blue tail; red eyes; gray legs. The female has dark brown upperparts with light freckles; heavily striped whitish underparts.
Similar to: Australian Koel. Female Australian Koel has light moustacial steak; female Asian Koel doesn't. Ranges do not overlap.
Image by: 1) Ravivaidya  2) Auditi the Stargazer   3) Charlie Westerinen - Thailand  4) Ravi Vaidyanathan - Mahim Nature Park 
1, 2) Female  3, 4) Male


Koel, Australian   Eudynamys cyanocephalus  Found: Australasia, Indonesia
The Australian Koel is a large cuckoo. The male has a glossy blue-black body; pale greenish-gray bill; dark blue tail; red eyes; gray legs. The female has dark brown upperparts with light freckles; light moustacial line; striped whitish underparts. Their hosts are mainly large honeyeaters (especially noisy friarbirds and red wattlebirds. The young do not attempt to kill the host chicks.
Similar to: Asian Koel. Female Australian Koel has light moustacial steak; female Asian Koel doesn't. Ranges do not overlap.
Image by: 1) Vinni   2) Aviceda
1) Female  2) Male


Koel, Long-tailedalso Pacific Long-tailed Cuckoo  Eudynamys taitensis  Found: New Zealand and other Pacific Islands
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keulemans
1) Adult on branch, chick on ground receiving worm from Gray Warbler



Genus Hierococcyx
The hawk-cuckoos resemble hawks.

Cuckoo, Common Hawk-  Hierococcyx varius  Found: Indian subcontinent
Image by: 1) dhruvaraj  2) Arindam Mitra  3) Joby Joseph


Cuckoo, Large Hawk-  Hierococcyx sparverioides  Found: Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines
Image by: 1) BioDiversityLibrary 2, 3, 4) Lip Kee - India


Cuckoo, Philippine Hawk-  Hierococcyx hyperythrus  Found: Philippines
The Philippine Hawk-Cuckoo has gray upperparts; 3 or 4 dark and buff bars on tail; yellow eye-ring, legs, feet; black and olive bill.
Image by: 1) tebanwuds



Genus Pachycoccyx - 1 species

Cuckoo, Thick-billed  Pachycoccyx audeberti  Found: Afrcia, Madagascar (rare)
The Thick-bille Cuckoo has a thick bill; dark upperparts; white underparts.
Image by: 1) Riaan Marias - Tanzania  2) Chris and Megan Perkins
1) Juvenile



Genus Scythrops - 1 species

Cuckoo, Channel-billed  Scythrops novaehollandiae Found: Australasia
The Channel-billed Cuckoo has a very large bill; pale gray head, back, underparts; darker gray wings; dark gray upper-tail; barred under-tail with a black band and white tip at the end. It is the world's largest cuckoo. It is brood parasitic and because of its size the host birds are large; for example ravens and butcherbirds.
Image by:  1) Lance  2) Bilby - Adelaide Zoo in South Australia  3) Tom Tarrant - Queensland, Australia  4) Ralph Green
1) Juvenile 2, 3, 4) Male



Genus Surniculus

Cuckoo, Fork-tailed Drongo-  Surniculus dicruroides  Found: southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia
The Fork-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo is brood parasitic on small drongos. Sometimes consider subspecies of Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo.
Image by: 1) Vijay Ismavel - India  2) Sumeet Moghe


Cuckoo, Philippine Drongo-  Surniculus velutinus  Found: Philippines
Image by: 1) Neon Tomas Buenaflor Rosell


Cuckoo, Square-tailed Drongo-  Surniculus lugubris  Found: southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines
The Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo is brood parasitic on small drongos.
Image by: 1, 2) Vijay Ismavel - India  3) Francesco Veronesi - Philippines







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