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Cuculidae Family
Cuculidae Family

Cuculidae Family

The cuckoo family Cuculidae contains six subfamilies. The first three listed below are found in the New world, while the remaining three are found in the Old World.

  • Coccyzinae – New World Cuckoos
  • Neomorphinae – New World Ground Cuckoos
  • Crotophaginae – Anis
  • Cuculinae – Old World Cuckoos
  • Phaenicophaeinae – Malkohas and Couas
  • Centropodinae – Coucals

The Cuckoo Family Cuculidae

The cuckoo family Cuculidae is the only family of the order Cuculiformes. The family is represented on all continents except Antarctica. Most species reside in tropical or subtropical environments. Those in temperate locations migrate to avoid cool or cold winters. In addition to cuckoos, the 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 is terrestrial.

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, depending on the genera. There are two basic body forms, arboreal species which are slender and terrestrial species which are more heavy set and have stronger legs. Almost all species have long tails which are used for steering in terrestrial species and as a rudder during flight in the arboreal species.

Many species are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other species, but the majority of species raise their own young. The brood parasitic birds usually 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 food competition for the parasitic nestling once it hatches. Some brood parasites will eliminate all their nest-mates shortly after hatching. If the host removes a parasitic egg or chick, the adult parasitic birds may retaliate by destroying the nest.

There has been an evolutionary arms race between the cuckoos that leave their eggs in other nests, and the hosts that get these unwanted presents. The cuckoos have evolved to be able to lay their eggs faster than most other species and the eggs need less incubation time before hatching. These eggs often resemble the host eggs to prevent detection of an invader egg. The drongo-cuckoos resemble their host. Some hosts have evolve to be social, so the colony can be on the lookout for an invader trying to deposit an egg. Others have more than one brood of chicks per year, so there will be replacements for any losses due to cuckoos.

Cuckoos feed on insects, small animals, seeds, and fruit. For many cuckoo species, caterpillars are their favorite food; even hairy caterpillars that are avoided by most other birds. Cuckoos can consume hairy caterpillars because of their ability to shed their abdominal lining and get rid of the hairs via a pellet. Another favorite food of many cuckoos are grasshoppers. We may find it repugnant that some cuckoos are brood parasitic and they or their offspring even kill the host’s chicks, but on the plus side cuckoos help prevent plagues of caterpillars and grasshoppers!

Almost all cuckoos are shy which can make them a challenge to observe and photograph. Consistent with this behavior, they are not colonial breeders. These traits may be have their roots in their brood parasitic behavior. Stealth is a good characteristic if you want to sneak an egg into a host’s nest. Cuckoo family members are zygodactyl: they have the 2 inner toes facing forward and 2 two outer toes facing to the rear.

New World Cuckoos

Cuckoo subfamily Coccyzinae species are restricted to the Americas. Its three genera are: Coccycua, Coccyzus, and Piaya. Unlike the ground cuckoos, the members of the Coccyzinae subfamily do much of their foraging in trees and shrubs. Almost all the species of this cuckoo subfamily are not brood parasitic. That is, they lay their eggs in their own nests and raise their chicks. The two exceptions are the black-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus) and the yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus). And those two species do raise their own young most of the time.

The three species of genus Coccycua are found in the tropical Americas. They are not brood parasites. They are relatively small, have short tails, and do not migrate.They mainly eat insects. Genus Coccyzus with its 13 species makes up the largest part of this American subfamily of cuckoos. Coccyzus cuckoos feed on large insects such as caterpillars, cicadas, and wasps. Many also feed on lizards.

Cuckoos can consume hairy caterpillars because of their ability to shed their abdominal lining and get rid of the hairs via a pellet. They have long wings and are strong fliers. Many species have black under-tails with broad white tips to the feathers which are striking because of the graduated tail. The two cuckoos of genus Playa are relatively large arboreal cuckoos with very long tails. They mainly eat insects including caterpillars and grasshopers.

1. Genus Coccycua

The three species of this genus are found in the tropical Americas. They are not brood parasites.

1.1. Ash-Colored Cuckoo, Coccycua cinerea

Ash-Colored Cuckoo
Image By: Claudio Timm – Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil

Description: The Ash-colored Cuckoo has a grey head and a brownish-grey back. The underparts are light grey, the eyes red, and the bill black.

Range: South America.

Habitat: Subtropical or tropical forest, bushy areas.

Diet: Insects including their larvae.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Ash-Colored Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Gustavo Duran – Argentina
Ash-Colored Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Fabiorochapina

1.2. Dwarf Cuckoo, Coccycua pumila

Dwarf Cuckoo
Image by: Nick Athanas – Venezueal

Description: The dwarf cuckoo has brown upperparts and a grey crown. It has a black bill and red eye-ring. The throat and upper-breast are rufous while the lower-breast and belly are creamy white. The end of the tail is back with white tips. The Dwarf Cuckoo raises its own young. It builds a flimsy stick platform in a small tree.

Range: Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, northern Brazil.

Habitat: Subtropical or tropical forest (even if degraded due to logging).

Diet: Insects including caterpillars. Hunts in trees, scrubs, on ground.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Dwarf Cuckoo habitat
Image by: Alejandro Tamayo
Dwarf Cuckoo closeup
Image by: Cornell_Univ’s_Neotropical Birds Online – Frank Shufelt In Columbia

1.3. Little Cuckoo, Coccycua minuta

Little Cuckoo
Image By: Nick Athanas – Ecuador

Description: The Little Cuckoo has mainly chestnut-brown plumage. The lower-belly is greyish and the dark brown tail has white tips. The bill is yellow as is the bill. The eyes are red. The Little Cuckoo raises its own young.

Range: Panama, South America.

Habitat: Mangrove swamps, and scrubby woodland near water.

Diet: Insects, arachnids, crustaceans.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Little Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Cornell Univ’s Neotropical Birds Online – Luke Seitz In Guyana
Little Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Len Blumin – Trinidad
Little Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Carlos Simioni

2. Genus Coccyzus

These cuckoos all build their own nests. However, the yellow-billed and black-billed will occasionally lay eggs in the nest of other species. These two species are also the only two of the species that appear in North America. The other 5 species are restricted to Central and South America.

2.1. Bay-Breasted Cuckoo, Coccyzus rufigularis

Bay-Breasted Cuckoo
Image By: Cornell_Univ’s Neotropical Birds Online – Dax Roman

Description: The Bay-breasted Cuckoo has grey upperparts. The throat and breast are reddish-brown (reddish-brown horses are said to have the color “bay”, hence the name of this species). The belly is whitish. The under-tail is obviously graduated as the white feather tips gradually show higher up the black tail.

Range: Dominican Republic on Hispaniola in Caribbean.

Habitat: Under 900 meters (3000 ft) in moist or dry forests.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars and grasshoppers; lizards. Also mice, beetles.

Conservation status: The bay-bay-created cuckoo is listed as endangered because their numbers are declining and their range relatively small.

Bay-Breasted Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Cornell_Univ’s Neotropical Birds Online – Dax Roman

2.2. Black-Billed Cuckoo, Coccyzus erythropthalmus

Black-Billed Cuckoo
Image By: Wolfgang Wander

Description: The Black-billed Cuckoo has black bill. It has greyish-brown upperparts, white underparts, and a red eye-ring. They occasionally lay eggs in the nest of other species.

It is similar to the yellow-billed cuckoo which has a black bill above and yellow below. The black-billed cuckoo bill is all black. Also, the yellow-billed has more white on the underside of its tail than the black-billed.

Range: The Americas.

Habitat: They forage and nest in trees and shrubs.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars and cicada. Also eggs, berries, snails.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Black-Billed Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Dave Inman – Pennsylvania
Black-Billed Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Bob Hall

2.3. Chestnut-Bellied Cuckoo, Coccyzus pluvialis

Chestnut-Bellied Cuckoo
Image By: Dominic Sherony

Description: The chestnut-bellied cuckoo has brown upperparts. The head has a dark grey crown and blackish bill. It has a white throat. The breast is light grey and the belly is chestnut. The tail is black with wide white tips.

Range: Jamaica.

Habitat: Forests and degraded forests.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars, lizards. Also mice, small birds, eggs.

Conservation status: The status is listed as “Least concern”, but it is not a well known species and restricted to Jamaica, so its health as a species bears watching.

Chestnut-Bellied Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Ron_Knight

2.4. Cocos Cuckoo, Coccyzus ferrugineus

Cocos Cuckoo
Image By: Cornell_Univ’s Neotropical Birds Online – Ken Harvard

Description: The Cocos Cuckoo has brown upperparts. The throat and upper-breast are whitish while the rest of the underparts are peach. It has a dark grey crown and a black eye mask. The upper mandible is black, the lower is yellow. It also has a yellow eye-ring.

Range: Island of Cocos off Costa Rica.

Habitat: Mainly forest; also scrub land.

Diet: Insects, especially spiders.

2.5. Dark-Billed Cuckoo, Coccyzus melacoryphus

Dark-Billed Cuckoo
Image By: Claudio Timm – Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil

Description: The dark-billed cuckoo has reddish-brown upperparts. It has grey head with a black bill. The underparts are light brownish-yellow.

Range: South America.

Habitat: Wide range of habits allowing it to be widespread.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars, grasshoppers, ants.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Dark-Billed Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Edwin_Harvey – Argenitna
Dark-Billed Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Nick Athanas – Columbia

2.6. Great Lizard Cuckoo, Coccyzus merlini 

Great Lizard Cuckoo
Image By: Victoria Garcia – Cuba

Description: The Great Lizard-Cuckoo is the largest cuckoo of genus Coccyzus. It has olive-brown upperparts including the head and upper-tail. On the opposite side it has a white throat and breast, plus a chestnut belly. The under-tail is barred black and white. There is a long pale bill and a red eye-ring.

Range: Bahamas, Cuba.

Habitat: Forest and scrub.

Diet: Insect, lizards, frogs, snakes.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Great Lizard Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Amy McAndrews – Cuba
Great Lizard Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Charles J Sharp
Great Lizard Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Jerry Oldenettel – Cuba

2.7. Grey-Capped Cuckoo, Coccyzus lansbergi

Grey-Capped Cuckoo
Image By: Cornell_Univ’s Neotropical Birds_Online – Juan Rpo In Columbia

Description: The grey-capped cuckoo’s head is mostly grey. It has rufous-brown upperparts and rufous-yellow underparts. The tail is black on top and black and white on the bottom.

Range: Northern South America.

Habitat: Varied from forests to bushes.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Grey-Capped Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Nick Athanas – Ecuador

2.8. Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo, Coccyzus longirostris

Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo
Image By: Ron Knight

Description: The Hispaniolan cuckoo has grey upperparts and breast. The throat and belly are rufous. There is red skin around the eye, and the long bill is black. It has a black- and-white banded tail with a narrow white tip.

Range: Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic).

Habitat: Forests and bushes.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars and grasshoppers. Also lizards.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo closeup
Image By: ZabkaM
Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Ron Knight

2.9. Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo, Coccyzus vetula

Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo
Image By: Dominic Sherony

Description: The Jamaican Lizzard-Cuckoo’s has greyish-olive upperparts and a dark grey cap. The throat is whitish-grey and the underparts are peach. The under-tail is obviously graduated as the white feather tips gradually show higher up the black tail. The bill, which is long is straight with flat sides, easily distinguishes it from other cuckoos in it range.

Range: Jamaica.

Habitat: It forages in trees searching for lizards.

Diet: Mainly lizards.

Conservation status: Least concern.

2.10. Mangrove Cuckoo, Coccyzus minor 

Mangrove Cuckoo
Image By: Mario Davalos – Dominican Republic

Description: The mangrove cuckoo has brown upperparts including the head which has a black mask and yellow eye-rings. The underparts are buffy. The upper-tail is brown and the under-tail is obviously graduated as the white feather tips gradually show higher up the black tail. The mangrove cuckoo is best differentiated from the similar yellow-billed cuckoo by its black facial mask and buffy underparts. Both species have black bill above and yellow below. Both have yellow eye-rings.

Range: south Florida to north Brazil.

Habitat: Mangrove swamps and higher ground (hammocks) accompanying them.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars and grasshoppers. Also snails, spiders, small lizards, fruit.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Mangrove Cuckoo aspects
Image By: New Jersy Birds
Mangrove Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Henry Plank – Saint Martin
Mangrove Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Mark Stevens – Antigua

2.11. Pearly-Breasted Cuckoo, Coccyzus euleri

Pearly-Breasted Cuckoo
Image By: Brendan Ryan – Brazil

Description: The pearly-breasted cuckoo has brown upperparts, pearly-white underparts, and a grey eye-ring. The upper mandible is black and the bottom is yellow. It can be told from the similar yellow-billed cuckoo by that species chestnut wings.

Range: South America.

Habitat: Forest and scrub lands.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

2.12. Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo, Coccyzus vieilloti

Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo
Image By: Cornell Univ’s Neotropical Birds Online – Felipe Pimentel

Description: The Puerto Rican lizard cuckoo has a long thin bill which is black on top and yellow on bottom. It has brown upperparts and red eye-rings. It has a grey throat and beast. The belly and tail are reddish-tan, The under-tail is obviously graduated as the white feather tips gradually show higher up the black tail.

Range: Puerto Rico.

Habitat: Forests and coffee plantations.

Diet: Mainly lizards; also insects and spiders.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Peter Crosson
Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Ron Knight

2.13. Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, Coccyzus americanus

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
Image By: Phil Brown – Massachuestts

Description: The yellow-billed cuckoo has a yellow lower mandible and a yellow eye-ring. It has brown upperparts, head, and upper-tail. The wings are chestnut. The under-tail is obviously graduated as the white feather tips gradually show higher up the black tail. They occasionally lay eggs in the nest of other species.

Range: The Americas.

Habitat: They forage and nest in trees and shrubs.

Diet: Insects especially caterpillars and cicada. Also lizards.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Similar to:

  • Black-Billed Cuckoo – Yellow-billed cuckoo has a black bill above and yellow below; Black-billed Cuckoo bill is all black. Yellow-billed sometimes has a visible yellow eye-ring; Black-billed eye-ring is red. Yellow-billed has more white on the underside of its tail than the black-billed.
  • Pearly-breasted Cuckoo – Yellow-billed cuckoo has chestnut wings.
  • Mangrove Cuckoo – Mangrove cuckoo is best differentiated from yellow-billed cuckoo by its black facial mask and buffy underparts. Both species have black bill above and yellow below. Both have yellow eye-ring.
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Seabrooke Leckie
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo feathering
Image By: Rob Payne
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Nick Athanas – Columbia
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Mdf – Bruce Peninsula National Park, Canada

3. Genus Piaya

These species have relatively slight bodies and long tails. They are not brood parasitic, that is, they raise their own young.

3.1. Black-Bellied Cuckoo, Piaya melanogaster

Black-Bellied Cuckoo
Image By: Cornell Univ’s Neotropical Birds Online – Joao Quental in Brazil

Description: The Black-bellied Cuckoo has chestnut upperparts. It has a grey crown and a red bill. The throat and breast are reddish brown and the belly is black. The under-tail is obviously graduated as the white feather tips gradually show higher up the black tail. There is pale blue bare skin around most of the eye with some a patch of yellow in front of the eye.

Range:
 Amazon region of South America.

Habitat: Tropical forest and scrubs in nearby areas. Not found at the coast.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars and grasshopers. Also spiders and crustaceans.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Black-Bellied Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Amy McAndrews – Brazil
Black-Bellied Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Carol Foil – Columbia

3.2. Squirrel Cuckoo, Piaya cayana

Squirrel Cuckoo
Image By: David_Cook – Ecuador

Description: The squirrel cuckoo is an arboreal species whose movements in the trees with its long tail may bring to mind a squirrel. The under-tail is obviously graduated as the white feather tips gradually show higher up the black tail. The upper-tail is rufous. It has chestnut upperparts, including the head. The upper breast is grey and the belly is blackish. The squirrel cuckoo has a greenish-yellow bill.

Range:
 Central and South America.

Habitat: Spends most of its time in trees.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars and grasshoppers; also spiders.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Squirrel Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Nick Athanas – Panama 
Squirrel Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Albert_Michaud – Ecuador

New World Ground-Cuckoos

Neomorphinae subfamily contains the New World ground-cuckoos. They are not closely related to the Asian ground-cuckoos of genus Carpococcyx.

There are 5 genera in this subfamily, but only 11 species. As the name implies, the ground-cuckoos spend much of their time on the ground. This has caused them to develop strong legs and many can run very fast. The fastest is the greater roadrunner which attains speed up to 40 km/h (25 mph). All of the ground-cuckoos eat insects and other anthropoids such spiders and crustaceans. Some are especially attracted by arm ants, masses of ants moving in one direction.

Only one species of New World ground-cuckoo is brood parasitic: thepavonine cuckoo (Dromococcyx pavoninus).

1. Genus Dromococcyx

These two cuckoos have strikingly graduated tails, and are among the few cuckoos of the Americas that are brood parasites (the only other is the Striped Cuckoo).

1.1. Pavonine Cuckoo, Dromococcyx pavoninus 

Pavonine Cuckoo
Image By: Dario Sanches – Brazil

Description: The Pavonine Cuckoo has dark-brown upperparts. and paler underparts. The head is rusty-brown. The eye-rings are white and the superciliums are buff. The throat and upper-breast are also buff. The tail is long and graduated (under-tail feathers display different lengths). It is brood parasitic; the single chick kills its nest mates. The pavonine cuckoo is similar to the pheasant cuckoo which has a paler throat and breast. The pheasant cuckoo also has dark marks and streaks on the breast while the former does not.

Range: South America.

Habitat: The understory of subtropical and tropical moist forests.

Diet: Mainly insects such as grasshoppers.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Pavonine Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Dario Sanches – Brazil
Pavonine Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Dario Sanches – Brazil

1.2. Pheasant Cuckoo, Dromococcyx phasianellus 

Pheasant Cuckoo
Image By: Cornell Univ’s Neotropical Birds Online – Carlos Echeverria In Guatemala, Andrew Spencer In Brazil

Description: The pheasant cuckoo has brown upperparts and paler underparts. The throat has small dark marks which help distinguish it from the similar pavonine cuckoo. The tail is long and graduated (under-tail feathers display different lengths). They are brood parasitic.

Range: Central and South America.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Pheasant Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Cornell Univ’s Neotropical Birds Online – Carlos Echeverria In Guatemala, Andrew Spencer In Brazil

2. Genus Geococcyx

There are two roadrunner species. Their name comes from the habit of racing down roads in front of moving vehicles and then darting to safety in the brush. They raise their own young.

2.1. Greater Roadrunner, Geococcyx californianus

Greater Roadrunner
Image By: Dick – Tuscon, Arizona

Description: The greater roadrunner has streaked dark brown upperparts. It dark a brown crest with white specks and a very long dark tail. This is North America’s largest cuckoo. It is similar to the smaller lesser roadrunner which has a shorter bill. If a roadrunner is found in the USA then it is a greater roadrunner.

Range: Southwest USA, Mexico.

Habitat: Desert scrub.

Diet: Insects, spiders, small snakes, mice and more.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Greater Roadrunner closeup
Image By:
Greater Roadrunner aspects
Image By: Dick Daniels – North Carolina Zoo
Greater Roadrunner definition
Image By: Dick – Tuscon, Arizona
Greater Roadrunner habitat
Image By: dmallen321
Greater Roadrunner feathering
Image By: Dick – Tuscon, Arizona

2.2. Lesser Roadrunner, Geococcyx velox

Lesser Roadrunner
Image By: Francesco Veronesi – Mexico

Description: The Lesser Roadrunner has streaked dark brown upperparts. There is a dark brown crest with white specks and long dark tail. It is similar to the larger greater roadrunner which has a longer bill.

Range: Mexico and Central America.

Habitat: Open areas with scrub and thorny bushes.

Diet: Insects including grasshoppers and caterpillars; also seeds, fruit, frogs, small animals.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Lesser Roadrunner habitat
Image By: Sergey Yeliseev
Lesser Roadrunner closeup
Image By: Mark_Watson

3. Genus Morococcyx

3.1. Lesser Ground Cuckoo, Morococcyx erythropygus

Lesser Ground Cuckoo
Image By: Francesco Veronesi – Mexico

Description: The Lesser Ground-Cuckoo has dull brown upperparts with rufous tips to these feathers and the upper-tail coverts. The underparts are cinnamon and the tail is long and graduated. There is an ornate pattern on the face with a black mask on its sides.

Range: Mexico, Central America.

Habitat: Dry forest and scrub lands. This ground-cuckoo does spend some time low in the trees.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Lesser Ground Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Bryant Olsen
Lesser Ground Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Nick Athanas – Costa Rica

4. Genus Neomorphus

The New World ground-cuckoos look similar to the Old World ground-cuckoos, but they are not closely related. Their shape is also similar to the greater roadrunner. These New World birds are relatively large and mostly terrestrial, but they are shy and only infrequently seen. Because of their life for the ground they have powerful legs. They live in humid forests and often follows swams of army ants. The range of these five species do not overlap much and they can usually be distinguished by their bill and facial skin color.

4.1. Banded Ground Cuckoo, Neomorphus radiolosus

Banded Ground Cuckoo
Image By: Glenn Bartley – Cornell Univ’s Neotropical Birds Online – Glenn Bartley In Ecuador

Description: The banded ground-cuckoo has a banded, scaly-looking face, mantle, and underparts. There is a black crest and the lower back is chestnut. The orbital skin is blue and the bill is dark.

Range: Columbia and Ecuador.

Habitat: Subtropical or tropical moist forests.

Diet: Insects, especially ants. Other anthropoids such as spiders and crustaceans.

Conservation status: The banded ground-cuckoo is endangered because of loss of habitat.

4.2. Red-Billed Ground Cuckoo, Neomorphus pucheranii

Red-Billed Ground Cuckoo
Image By: Cornell Univ’s Neotropical Birds Online – Whaldener Endo

Description: The red-billed ground-cuckoo has a red bill and also red orbital skin around the eyes. There is also some blue on the orbital skin. The upperparts are brown with rufous wings. It has a black crown and crest. On the underparts the breast is grey and has a ruffled appearance. There is a black breast-band and the belly is cinnamon-buff.

Range: Amazon region of Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru.

Habitat: Moist forests.

Diet: Insects, especially ants. Also fruit.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Red-Billed Ground Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Francis Casteinau

4.3. Rufous-Vented Ground Cuckoo, Neomorphus geoffroyi

Rufous-Vented Ground Cuckoo
Image By: Cornell Univ’s Neotropical Birds Online – Daniel Teixeira In Brazil, John Afdem In Panama

Description: The rufous-vented ground-cuckoo has dark upperparts with greenish, bluish, or purplish iridescence. The head is brown with a greenish-brown crest. There are whitish to pale tan underparts. The breast usually appears scaly and there is a thin black breast-band. As is true for other species in this genus, the tail is long and the legs are sturdy. The scaled ground-cuckoo has been considered a subspecies of the rufous-vented ground-cuckoo.

Range: Central and South Ameriaca.

Habitat: Floor of humid subtropical and tropical forests.

Diet: Insects, especially ants. Other anthropoids such as spiders and crustaceans.

Conservation status: The rufous-vented ground-cuckoo is listed as vulnerable as its numbers seem to be diminishing and the South American population may now be mostly restricted to Columbia. The remaining number of birds may be substantial, but their secretive nature makes this uncertain.

Rufous-Vented Ground Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Cornell Univ’s Neotropical Birds Online – Daniel Teixeira In Brazil, John Afdem In Panama
Rufous-Vented Ground Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Greg Kanies – Panam

4.4. Rufous-Winged Ground Cuckoo, Neomorphus rufipennis

Rufous-Winged Ground Cuckoo
Image By: Cornell Univ’s Neotropical Birds Online – Pete Morris In Venezuela

Description: The rufous-winged ground-cuckoo has dark to black crown, crest, mantle, tail, and breast. The wings are rufous. The underparts are pale with scales. And as is true for others of his genus, the tail is long and the legs are sturdy.

Range: Northeastern South America.

Habitat: Humid tropical forests.

Diet: Insects, especially grasshoppers, crickets and spiders.

Conservation status: Least concern.

4.5. Scaled Ground Cuckoo, Neomorphus squamiger 

Scaled Ground Cuckoo
Image By: Cornell Univ’s Neotropical Birds Online – Jorge Lopes In Brazil, Joao Quenatal In Brazil

Description: The scaled ground-cuckoo has been considered a subspecies of the rufous-vented ground-cuckoo. Dark breast feathers outlined in white give it a scaled appearance. The belly also appear scaled, but less so. There is no breast-band. It has dark brown upperparts with a brown head that has a blackish crest. The tail is blackish and the belly tan.

Range: Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Also northern Bolivia, eastern Peru.

Habitat: Forests – mainly terrestrial.

Diet: Insects, especially ants. Other anthropoids such as spiders and crustaceans.

Conservation status: Its status is vulnerable as the population continues to decline because of destruction of the rainforest.

Scaled Ground Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Cornell Univ’s Neotropical Birds Online – Jorge Lopes In Brazil, Joao Quenatal In Brazil

5. Genus Tapera

5.1. Striped Cuckoo, Tapera naevia

Striped Cuckoo
Image By: Dario Sanches

Description: The striped cuckoo has gray-brown upperparts, streaked with black and buff. There is a chestnut and black crest plus pale supercilium. The underparts are off-white. It is brood parasitic and one of three such cuckoos in the New World. The chick, or sometimes chicks, kills its nest mates.

Range: Southern Mexico, Central America, and much of South America.

Habitat: Open country with trees or shrubs, and the edges of mangrove forests.

Diet: Large insects such as grasshoppers.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Striped Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Barloventomagico
Striped Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Nick Athanas – Costa Rica

Anis And Guiri Cuckoo

Crotophaginae subfamily contains the anis and also the guiri cuckoo. The three anis plus the guiri cuckoo make a totoal of 4 species in this small subfamily. None of these species are brood parastic and all are gregarious.

The three ani species live in the tropical Americas. The anis are not brood parasites, but nest communally, the cup nest being built by several pairs in a tree. A number of females lay their eggs in the nest and then share incubation and feeding. Their flight is weak and wobbly, but they run well, and usually feed on the ground. These are very gregarious species, always found in noisy groups. Anis feed on termites, large insects, and even lizards and frogs.

The guiri cuckoo is also gregarious, but less so than the anis. It will feed in often mixed flocks, often with anis. Its diet is similar to the anis, but even more vafied including eggs and small birds. It does not nest communally. It is found in South merica.

1. Genus Crotophaga

The three anis species live in the tropical Americas. The anis are not brood parasites, but nest communally, the cup nest being built by several pairs in a tree. A number of females lay their eggs in the nest and then share incubation and feeding.

1.1. Greater Ani, Crotophaga major

Greater Ani
Image By: Dominic Sherony

Description: The greater ani has black plumage with blue gloss. It has a massive ridged black bill and white eyes. Females may share the same nest, the incubation of the eggs, and feeding of the chicks. The similar groove-billed ani has black eyes.

Range: Panama, South America.

Habitat: Semi-open areas such as mangroves, pastures, swamps.

Diet: Large insects, frogs, lizards.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Greater Ani description
Image By: Nick Athanas – Ecuador
Greater Ani habitat
Image By: Dick Daniels – Soberania National Park, Panama
Greater Ani closeup
Image By: Arthur Chapman

1.2. Groove-Billed Ani, Crotophaga sulcirostris

Groove-Billed Ani
Image By: Cephas – Costa Rica

Description: The groove-billed ani has a heavily grooved gray bill. It has black plumage and black eyes.

Range: Texas, Central and South America.

Habitat: Semi-open areas such as mangroves, pastures, swamps.

Diet: Insects, spiders, frogs, lizards.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Similar to:

  • Greater Ani – Greater ani has white eye; groove-billed ani has black eyes.
  • Smooth-Billed Ani – Groove-billed ani has narrow grooves in the bill; smooth-billed does not.
Groove-Billed Ani description
Image By: Pablo Leautard – Mexico
Groove-Billed Ani closeup
Image By: Hans Hillewaert – Costa Rica
Groove-Billed Ani habitat
Image By: Nick Athanas

1.3. Smooth-Billed Ani, Crotophaga ani

Smooth-Billed Ani
Image By: Charles J Sharp

Description: The smooth-billed ani has a lightly grooved gray bill. It has black plumage and black eyes. The neck is shaggy. Females may share the same nest, the incubation of the eggs, and feeding of the chicks. The narrow and more prominent grooves in the bill of the groove-billed ani help to distinguish it from the smooth-billed ani.

Range: Florida, Central and South America.

Habitat: Open and semi-open country and areas under cultivation.

Diet: Large insects including trmites, frogs, lizards.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Smooth-Billed Ani habitat
Image By: Nick Athanas – Brazil
Smooth-Billed Ani description
Image By: Dick Daniels – Royal Palm Reserve, Jamaica
Smooth-Billed Ani closeup
Image By: Ron Knight

2. Genus Guira

2.1. Guira Cuckoo, Guira guira

Guira Cuckoo
Image By: Dario Sanches – Brazil

Description: The guira cuckoo has dark brown upperparts streaked with white. The long tail is is also dark brown and has a white-tip. It has whitish-buff underparts. The guira cuckoo has a shaggy neck, an orange-rufous crest, bare yellow skin around the eye, andorange-yellow bill.

Range: South America in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay.

Habitat: Open areas such as pastures and wetlands.

Diet: Insects, spiders, frogs, lizards, worms, snails, eggs, small birds.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Guira Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Claudio Timm – Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil
Guira Cuckoo description
Image By: Gustavo Duran – Brazil 
Guira Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Dario Sanches – Brazil
Guira Cuckoo closeup
Image By: dFaulder – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Old World Cuckoos

Cuculinae subfamily contains brood parasitic Old World cuckoos. The are arborel cuckoos, spending much of ther time in trees looking for insects, especially caterpillars. There are 8 genera that contain more than one sprcies. These are discribed briefly below.

  • Cacomantis – 9 species. They have mainly brown and grey plumage. Their tails are graduated and barred. Many have caterpillars on their list of favorite foods and they thus tend to be arboreal.
  • Cercococcyx – 3 species. They all have “long-tailed” as part of their name. They are found in Africa. They are secretive and not often photographed. Their habitat are forests and thickets where they are mainly arborieal in trees but also in thckets.
  • Chrysococcyx – 11 species. Many of the bronze-cuckoos have bronze-like coloring on some of their upperparts. For many of the species the males and females have different plumage. They are all parasitic, laying their eggs in the nests of other species. Most live arboreally in forests where they feed on caterpillars and other insects. They are found in Africa, Asia, and Australasia.
  • Clamator – 4 species These 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. Some species are 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.
  • Cuculus – 10 species. These are vocal species, with persistent and loud calls. They feed on large insects, especialy hairy caterpillars, which are distasteful to many birds. They prefer open woodland instead of thick forest. Most have grey upperparts, partially-barred pale underparts. Many have yellow feet and eye-rings.
  • Eudynamys – 2 or 3 species. These koel cuckoos are found in Asia, Australia, and the Pacific. The males have mainly black plumage while females have dark brown upperparts with light freckles and heavily striped whitish underparts. The bills are pale grey-green, except for the black-billed koel, a subspecies of the Asian Koel. They are brood parasitic.
  • Hierococcyx – 8 species. The hawk-cuckoos resemble hawks, not only in apperance but also some of their behavior such as how they fly and land on a perch They have yellow eye-rings and yellow feet.
  • Surniculus – 4 species. The drongo-cckoos have mainly black plumage. They resemble drongos which have the same general shape and also have black plumage. Whether or not there is an advantage to this resemblance is unknown. It could be a coincidence.

1. 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. The cuckoos of this genus have mainly brown and grey plumage. Their tails are graduated and barred. Many have caterpillars on their list of favorite foods and they thus tend to be arboreal.

1.1. Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii

Banded Bay Cuckoo
Image By: Sandeep Gangadharan

Description: The Banded Bay Cuckoo has brown and rufous upperparts. It has light underparts with dark brown barring. There is a whitish supercilium and dark eye-line.

Range: Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Phillippines.

Habitat: Forest, scrub, open land.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Banded Bay Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Vil.Sandi
Banded Bay Cuckoo habitat
Image By: LonelyShrimp

1.2. Brush Cuckoo, Cacomantis variolosus 

Brush Cuckoo
Image By: David Cook – Australia

Description: The brush cuckoo has grey-brown upperparts with a grey head. It has a buff breast. The under-tail is brown with white tips and bars.

Range: Australasia, Southeast Asia.

Habitat: Forest, scrub, plantations.

Diet: Insect, especially caterpillars. Also spiders, snails.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Brush Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Katerina Tvardikova
Brush Cuckoo description
Image By: Aviceda – Queensland
Brush Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Graham Winterflood
Brush Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Sergey Yeliseev

1.3. Chestnut-Breasted Cuckoo, Cacomantis castaneiventris

Chestnut-Breasted Cuckoo
Image By: Tom Tarrant – Northern Australia

Description: The chestnut-breasted cuckoo has a chestnut breast and belly. The upperparts are dark grey-blue and the eyes have a yellow eye-ring. The under-tail is barred black-and-white. The chestnut-breasted cuckoo has much darker underparts than the similar brush cuckoo (C. variolosus) and thefan-tailed cuckoo (C. flabelliformis).

Range: Australia, New Guinea.

Habitat: Forest and scrub between 1000 – 2000 meters.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpliiars. Mostly arboreal, but will fly from tree for prey on ground.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Chestnut-Breasted Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Katerina Tvardikova
Chestnut-Breasted Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Katerina Tvardikova
Chestnut-Breasted Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Markaharper – Papua New Guinea

1.4. Fan-Tailed Cuckoo, Cacomantis flabelliformis

Fan-Tailed Cuckoo
Image By: David Cook

Description: The fan-tailed cuckoo has dark grey upperparts and yellow eye-rings. The underparts are buff. The under-tail is barred black-and-white. It has yellow eye-rings.

Range: Australasia.

Habitat: Forests from temperate to tropical. Also open areas such as orchards and gardens.

Diet: Insects, fruits, small reptiles and birds.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Fan-Tailed Cuckoo closeup
Image By: JJ Harrison – Tasmania, Australia
Fan-Tailed Cuckoo aspects
Image By: David Cook
Fan-Tailed Cuckoo description
Image By: David Cook
Fan-Tailed Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Aviceda – Dayboro, SE Queensland, Australia
Fan-Tailed Cuckoo feathering
Image By: Yip Kee Yap At Jerrara Dam, NSW, Australia

1.5. Grey-Bellied Cuckoo, Cacomantis passerinus 

Grey-Bellied Cuckoo
Image By: Nagesh Kamath – Southern India

Description: The grey-bellied cuckoo has mainly grey plumage with paler underparts. Some females are are of the hepatic form which has dark-barred reddish brown upperparts, an unbarred tail, and strongly dark-barred whitish underparts.

Range: Indian subcontinent, Myanmar.

Habitat: Lightly timbered land and cultivated areas.

Diet: Insects including caperpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Grey-Bellied Cuckoo description
Image By: Karunakar Rayker
Grey-Bellied Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Thimindu Goonatillake – India
Grey-Bellied Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Nagesh Kamath – Southern India

1.6. Moluccan Cuckoo, Cacomantis heinrichi

Moluccan Cuckoo
Image By: Paulo Alves

Description: The Moluccan cuckoo has grey upperparts with brown wings and back tail. The bill is black and the eyes have a yellow eye-ring. It has rufous underparts with a dark throat.

Range: Maluku Islands of Indonesia.

Habitat: Subropica and tropical forests.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Moluccan Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Pete Morris
Moluccan Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Pete Morris

1.7. Pallid Cuckoo, Cacomantis pallidus 

Pallid Cuckoo
Image By: Greg Miles

Description: The pallid cuckoo has grey upperparts. The head, nape, and underparts are pale grey. It has yellow eye-rings.

Range: Australasia.

Habitat: Open forests and scrub land insects.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars and grasshoppers.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Pallid Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Oystercatcher
Pallid Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Aviceda
Pallid Cuckoo closeup
Image By: David Cook

1.8. Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus 

Plaintive Cuckoo
Image By: JM Garg – India

Description: The male Plantive Cuckoo has grey-brown upperparts. The head, throat, and upper-breast are grey while the rest of the underparts are orange. The female is often similar to the male but may also have reddish-brown upperparts with barring. In this case the underparts are paler 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.

Range: Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines.

Habitat: Forest, scrubs, plantations, town.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars. Also fruit.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Plaintive Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Charles Lam – Hong Kong
Plaintive Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Ron Knight – Thailand
Plaintive Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Arie Frahman – Indonesia

1.9. White-Crowned Koel, Cacomantis leucolophus 

White-Crowned Koel
Image By: Nik_Borrow

Description: The white-crowned koel, also known as the white-crowned cuckoo, has mainly black plumage and the bill is also black. There is a white stripe down the crown. The under-tail has white barring. and the bill is black. It was formerly placed as the sole member of Caliechthrus.

Range: New Guinea.

Habitat: Forest canopy.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars, fruits.

Conservation status: Least concern.

White-Crowned Koel habitat
Image By: Katerina Tvardikova

2. Genus Cercococcyx

The long-tailed cuckoos are found in Africa. They are secretive and not often photographed; mainly arborieal in trees but also in thckets.

2.1. Barred Long-Tailed Cuckoo, Cercococcyx montanus

Description: The barred long-tailed cuckoo has a long tail which is white with heavy black barring. The upperparts are greenish-brown. The underparts are white with thin black bars. The eyes have a yellow eye-ring.

Range: East Africa and east-central Africa.

Habitat: Forests and also coastal thickets.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars; also snails.

Conservation status: Least concern.

2.2. Dusky Long-Tailed Cuckoo, Cercococcyx mechowi

Description: The dusky long-tailed cuckoo has dark brown upperparts, head, and nape with a blue iridescence. The dark brown wings have buff and white spot. It has white underparts with dark brown bars. The eyes are dark brown, the beak is greenish-black, and the feet are yellow.

Range: Africa.

Habitat: Forests with dense undrgrowth.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars; also spiders, snails, seeds.

Conservation status: Least concern.

2.3. Olive Long-Tailed Cuckoo, Cercococcyx olivinus

Description: The olive long-tailed cuckoo has olive-brown upperparts. The long tail has white underparts with black barring. The eyes have a yellow eye-ring.

Range: Central Africa.

Habitat: Tropical rainforest.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

3. Genus Chrysococcyx

Many of the bronze-cuckoos have bronze-like coloring on some of their upperparts. For many of the species the males and females have different plumage. They are all parasitic, laying their eggs in the nests of other species. Most live arboreally in forests where they feed on caterpillars and other insects. They are found in Africa, Asia, and Australasia.

3.1. African Emerald Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx cupreus

African Emerald Cuckoo
Image By: Ian White

Description: The male African emerald cuckoo has green upperparts and also upper-breast. The rest of the underparts are yellow. The female has green and brown upperparts and also upper-breast. The rest of her underparts are barred green-and-white.

Range: Africa.

Habitat: Forests, shade trees in towns.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars; also fruit. It forages in the mid and upper-stories of the forest.

Conservation status: Least concern.

African Emerald Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Maans Booysen
African Emerald Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Jim Scarff 

3.2. Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx maculatus

Asian Emerald Cuckoo
Image By: Somchai Kanchanasut – Rama IX Park, Bangkok, Thailand

Description: The male Asian emerald cuckoo has iridescent dark green upperparts, head, and upper-breast. The rest of the breast is white with green barring. Its bill is yellow with a black tip. The female has coppery-green upperparts with a rusty brown crown and nape. The underparts are white with green barring.

Range: Asia.

Habitat: Forest and forest edges.

Diet: Insects, including caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Asian Emerald Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Somchai Kanchanasut – Rama IX Park, Bangkok, Thailand
Asian Emerald Cuckoo closeup
Image By: JJ Harrison – Thailand

3.3. Black-Eared Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx osculans 

Black-Eared Cuckoo
Image By: David Cook

Description: The black-eared cuckoo has grey upperparts. It has dark ear coverts and a white supercilium. It has a grey tail with a white tip. The throat is whitish and the underparts are pinkish-buff merging to white at the lower-belly and rump.

Range: Australasia, eastern Indonesia.

Habitat: Dry open forests and scrubs.

Diet: Insects, mainly caterpillars; also seeds.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Black-Eared Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Aviceda – Bowra, SW Queensland, Australia
Black-Eared Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Nik Borrow
Black-Eared Cuckoo habitat
Image By: David Cook

3.4. Dideric Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx caprius 

Dideric Cuckoo
Image By: Ian White – Garborone

Description: The dideric cuckoo, also known as the diederick cuckoo, has green upperparts with copper-sheened areas on the back. It has whitish underparts with barred flanks. There is a broken white eye-line and green malar stripe. It is named after the call it makes.

Range: Sub-Saharan Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula.

Habitat: Open woodlands, bushes, savanna.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Dideric Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Derek Keats
Dideric Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Peter Steward – Kenya
Dideric Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Frik Erasmus

3.5. Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx basali

Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo
Image By: David Cook – Australia

Description: The Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoo has a bronze sheen on a brown back. The head has a brown cap, pale supercilium and dark brown eye-stripe. There are brown bars on whitish underparts. These bars fade away at the center of the underparts. The black-and-white undertail has a rufous center. The dark eye-line of this species differentiates it from the similar little bronze-cuckoo.

Range: Breeds in Australia, winters in Java.

Habitat: Relatively dry open forest and scrub land.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Aviceda – Australia 
Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Birdsaspoetry
Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Francesco Veronesi

3.6. Klass’s Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx klaas

Klass's Cuckoo
Image By: Derek Keats – South Africa

Description: The male Klaas’s cuckoo has glossy green upperparts and white underparts, plus a white patch behind the ear. the female has bronze-brown upperparts and greenish wing coverts. She has faintly barred pale underparts.

Range: Subsaharan Africa.

Habitat: Open forests, gardens.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Klass's Cuckoo description
Image By: Nik Borrow
Klass's Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Lip Kee Yap – South Africa
Klass's Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Frans Vandewalle – South Africa
Klass's Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Carol Foil – Kenya

3.7. Little Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx minutillus 

Little Bronze Cuckoo
Image By: Kazredracer – Northern Territory

Description: The little bronze-cuckoo has bronze upperparts. The underparts are white with bronze dashed lines. The male has red eyes with a red eye-ring while females have brown eyes with a light colored eye-ring. There is a white supercilium. It is similar to Horsfield’s bronze cuckoo which has a dark eye-line while the little bronze-cuckoo doesn’t.

Range: Southeast Asia and Australasia.

Habitat: Forest, thickets, gardens.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Little Bronze Cuckoo description
Image By: Brian McCauley 
Little Bronze Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Tom Tarrant
Little Bronze Cuckoo closeup
Image By: David Cook – Australia

3.8. Long-Billed Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx megarhynchus 

Long-Billed Cuckoo
Image By: Francesco Veronesi

Description: The male long-billed cuckoo has dark brown upperparts with a black head and red eye-ring. Its underparts are greyish-brown. The female has dark cinnamon upperparts with a dark grey-brown head. She has a cinnamon lower-breast and a rufous-buff belly with fine barring.

Range: New Guinea.

Habitat: Subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.

Diet: Insects, mainly ccaterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Long-Billed Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Katerina Tvardikova

3.9. Rufous-Throated Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx ruficollis

Rufous-Throated Bronze Cuckoo
Image By: Nik Borrow

Description: The rufous-throated bronze-cuckoo has green upperparts with bronze-like coloring on some of these upperparts. The nape is green while the forehead and face are rufous. The underparts are barred white and green.

Range: New Guinea.

Habitat: Forests.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Rufous-Throated Bronze Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Katerina Tvardikova
Rufous-Throated Bronze Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Francesco Veronesi

3.10. Shining-Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx lucidus

Shining-Bronze Cuckoo
Image By: Tom Tarrant – Australia

Description: The shining bronze-cuckoos, also known as the shining cuckoo, is the world’s smallest cuckoo. It has bronze-green upperparts with white cheeks. The underparts are white with complete bronze bars. It has a black bill.

Range: Australasia.

Habitat: Forest, scrubs, gardens. In the breeding season it prefers wet areas.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Shining-Bronze Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Digital Trails – New Zealand
Shining-Bronze Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Laurie Boyle
Shining-Bronze Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Laurie Boyle

3.11. Violet Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus

Violet Cuckoo
Image By: Rejaul Karim

Description: The male violet cuckoo has glossy violet upperparts, head, chin, and breast. The belly is violet with white bars. There is a red eye-ring. The female has mottled greenish-bronze upperparts with a dark brown crown. The belly is grenish-bronze with white bars.

Range: Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philppines.

Habitat: Subtropical and tropical moist forests. Also gardens, orchards, and rubber plantations.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Violet Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Francesco Veronesi
Violet Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Gee
Violet Cuckoo closeup
Image By: KesavamurthyN

3.12. White-Eared Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx meyerii

White-Eared Bronze Cuckoo
Image By: Nik Borrow

Description: The white-eared bronze-cuckoo has crescent-shaped white ear-coverts. It has glossy green upperparts and a green crown. The female has a chestnut fore-crown. The underparts are white with glossy green barring.

Range: New Guinea.

Habitat: Forest and gardens.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

White-Eared Bronze Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Katerina Tvardikova
White-Eared Bronze Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Nik Borrow

3.13. Yellow-Throated Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx flavigularis

Yellow-Throated Cuckoo
Image By: Nik Borrow – Ghana

Description: The male yellow-throated cuckoo has bronze-brown upperparts. The throat, upper-breast, and eye-rings are yellow. The rest of the underparts are yellowish-green with brown barring. Females don’t have yellow on the throat.

Range: African tropical rainforest.

Habitat: Old forests, high in canopy.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars; fruit.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Yellow-Throated Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Michael And Helen Cox

4. 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. Some species are 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.

4.1. Chestnut-Winged Cuckoo, Clamator coromandus

Chestnut-Winged Cuckoo
Image By: Vijay Ismavel

Description: The chestnut-winged cuckoo has chestnut wings. It has dark glossy upperparts and tail.The head is black with a long crest. There is a white half collar. The throat and upper-breast are rufous, but the rest of the ubderparts are white.

Range: Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines.

Habitat: Bushes and small trees, often in wet areas.

Diet: Insects, especialy caterpillars. Also spiders, fruit.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Chestnut-Winged Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Sandeep Gangadharan
Chestnut-Winged Cuckoo habitat
Image By: David Cook – Bhutan 

4.2. Great-Spotted Cuckoo, Clamator glandarius 

Great-Spotted Cuckoo
Image By: Frank Vassen – Portugal

Description: The great-spotted cuckoo has dark grey upperparts with white spots and a dark grey cap with a pale grey crest. The face, throat, and upper-breast are buffy. The rest of the underbarts are white. The chick emits a repellant that helps protect it and the host chicks from predators; one of the few times brood parasitic behavior has any benefit for the host.

Range: Southwest Europe, western Asia, Africa.

Habitat: Scrub and open woodland.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Image By: Johann Du Preez
Great-Spotted Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Francesco Veronesi – Spain
Great-Spotted Cuckoo description
Image By: Eran Finkle

4.3. Pied Cuckoo, Clamator jacobinus

Pied Cuckoo
Image By: Kosky Koshy

Description: The pied cuckoo, also known as the Jacobian cuckoo, has black upperparts with a black cap and crest. The underpart are white and there is a white patch on the wings.

Range: Africa, Asia.

Habitat: Scrub, open woodland, plains.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars, grasshoppers. Also snails, fruit.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Pied Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Shantanu Kuveskar
Pied Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Koshy Koshy

4.4. Levaillant’s Cuckoo, Clamator levaillantii 

Levaillant's Cuckoo
Image By: Ian White – Botswana 

Description: The Levaillant’s cuckoo has black upperparts, head, and crest. There is a white wing patch and the upper-tail is white tipped. The under-tail has rows of white tips visible because the tail is graduated. The underparts are pale with heavy black streaks on the breast.

Range: Africa.

Habitat: Forest, open woodlands, scrub.

Diet: Insects, including caterpillars and grasshoppers.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Levaillant's Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Derek Keats – South Africa

Levaillant's Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Derek Keats – South Africa
Levaillant's Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Peter Steward

5. 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, especialy hairy caterpillars, which are distasteful to many birds. They prefer open woodland instead of thick forest. Most have grey upperparts, partially-barred pale underparts. Many have yellow feet and eye-rings.

5.1. African Cuckoo, Cuculus gularis

African Cuckoo
Image By: Ian White – Zimbabwe

Description: The African cuckoo has grey upperparts, head, and wings. The throat and breast are pale grey. The belly is whitish with dark grey bars. The upper-tail is white tipped while the under-tail has rows of white tips visible because the tail is graduated. The African cuckoo has yellow legs, feet, eye-ring. The bill is also yellow, but with a black tip.

Range: Africa, south of the Sahara.

Habitat: Their typical habitat is savannah with scattered acacia trees and open woodland. They are not present in dense forest or in arid regions. Some of the species migrate with the rainy season, probably seeking more insects.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars. Also beetles, termites.

Conservation status: Least concern.

African Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Alan Manson – South Africa
African Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Bernard Dupont – South Africa
African Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Nik Borrow – Kenya

5.2. Black Cuckoo, Cuculus clamosus

Black Cuckoo
Image By: Sergei Golyshev – Tanzania

Description: The black cuckoo plumage varies by subspecies. C. c. clamosus is almost entirely black, sometimes with white tips on tail feathers. C. c. gabonensis has black upperparts, a red throat and upper-breast, the lower-breast and belly is barred black and white.

Range: C. c. gabonensis is resident in central Africa. C. c. clamosus breeds in southern Africa and migrates north.

Habitat: Woodlands, but not thick forest.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars and grasshoppers.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Black Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Nik Borrow – Cameroon
Black Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Donald Macauley
Black Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Ian White – South Africa

5.3. Common Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus

Common Cuckoo
Image By: Vogelartinfo

Description: The common cuckoo has grey upperparts and pale underparts with dark bars on the lower-breast and belly. Most females have the same plumage as males, but a rufous morph has reddish-brown upperparts with dark bars.

Range: Europe, Asia, Africa.

Habitat: Open woodlands, scrub, meadows.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars. Also beetles, grasshoppers, snails.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Common Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Imrun Shah – Pakistan
Common Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Steve Garvie – Scotland
Common Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Vogelartinfo

5.4. Himalayan Cuckoo, Cuculus saturatus

Himalayan Cuckoo
Image By: Tom Tarrant – Australia

Description: The male Himalayan cuckoo has grey upperparts, head, and upper-breast. It has a yellow eye-ring. The creamy-white belly has dark bars. Female are similar with slight rufous to the upper-breast. The female also has a rufous morph with reddish-brown barred upperparts. The Himalayan cuckoo is slightly smaller than the similar Oriental cuckoo which also has slightly shorter wings.

Range: Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines.

Habitat: A variety of wooded areas and also meadows.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars. Also spiders, eggs, chicks.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Himalayan Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Tony Castro – Thailand
Himalayan Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Hiyashi Haka

5.5. Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus

Indian Cuckoo
Image By: Vijay Ismavel – India

Description: The Indian cuckoo has grey upperparts. The underparts are pale with black barring. There is a yellow to grey eye-ring and a barred tail with a 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.

Range: Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines.

Habitat: Forests, scrub, gardens.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars. Also grasshoppers, fruit.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Indian Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Vijay Ismavel – India
Indian Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Vijay Ismavel – India
Indian Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Vijay Ismavel – India

5.6. Lesser Cuckoo, Cuculus poliocephalus

Lesser Cuckoo
Image By: Pseudolapiz

Description: The lesser cuckoo has grey upperparts, head, neck, and upper-breast. The lower-breast and belly are white with black bars The wing coverts and upper-tail are blackish. There is a yellow eye-ring and yellow feet. The female sometimes occurs in a rufous morph.

Range: Breeds in Asia and winters in Sri Lanka plus eastern Africa.

Habitat: Forests and scrub.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars. Also beetles, ants.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Lesser Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Ron Knight
Lesser Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Dave Curtis

5.7. Madagascar Cuckoo, Cuculus rochii

Madagascar Cuckoo
Image By: Amy McAndrews

Description: The Madagscar cuckoo has grey upperparts The head, throat, and upper-breast are lighter grey. The lower-breast and belly are white with black barring. The wing coverts and upper-tail are blackish. There is a yellow eye-ring and yellow feet. The female does not occur in a rufous morph. The voice of the male helps differentiate the Madagascar cuckoo from other Curulus cuckoos. According to “Cuckoos of thw World” by Reeitezze et. al., the voice is “ho-ho-ho-hu” or “cuck-cuck-ooo”.

Range: Breeds in Madagascar, winters in Africa.

Habitat: Forest and scrubs. Also marsh.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Madagascar Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Heinonlein
Madagascar Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Alan Harper

5.8. Oriental Cuckoo, Cuculus optatus

Oriental Cuckoo
Image By: Tom Tarrant – Australia

Description: The male Oriental Cuckoo has grey upperparts, head, and upper-breast. It has a yelloweye-ring. The creamy-white belly has dark bars. Female similar with slight rufous to upper breast. The female also has a rufous morph with reddish-brown barred upperparts. The Himalayan cuckoo is slightly smaller than the very similar Oriental cuckoo which also has slightly shorter wings. The common cuckoo is also similar to the Oriental cuckoo. It is slightly paler grey and the barring on the underparts is a little narrower.

Range: Asia (including Japan), Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Australia.

Habitat: A variety of wooded areas.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Oriental Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Judith Lukin-Amundsen – Australia
Oriental Cuckoo closeup
Image By: M Nishimura – Japan

5.9. Red-Chested Cuckoo, Cuculus solitarius

Red-Chested Cuckoo
Image By: Brendan Ryan

Description: The red-chested cuckoo has dark grey upperparts and a tail tipped with white. The under-tail is dark grey with rows of white tips indicating that the tail is graduated. The throat and sides of the head are pale grey. The upper-breast is pale red with variable amounts of barring. THe lower-breast is whitish with black bars while the belly is whitish with no bars. Juveniles have black uuperparts, head, neck.

Range: Africa (south of Sahara).

Habitat: Prefers woodlands.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars. Also spiders, snails, centipedes, berries.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Red-Chested Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Arno Meintjes
Red-Chested Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Nik Borrow – Uganda
Red-Chested Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Nik Borrow – Uganda

5.10. Sunda Cuckoo, Cuculus lepidus

Sunda Cuckoo
Image By: Tony Castro – Borneo

Description: The Sundra cuckoo has dark grey upperparts and head. The throat and upper-breast are paler grey and the rest of underparts are buff with black bars. It has yellow eye-ring and feet. The female also appears in a morph with rufous barred upperparts.

Range: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand.

Habitat: Forests.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars. Also fruit.

Conservation status: Least concern.

6. Genus Eudynamys

These koel cuckoos are found in Asia, Australia, and the Pacific. The males have mainly black plumage while females have dark brown upperparts with light freckles and heavily striped whitish underparts. The bills are pale grey-green, except for the black-billed koel, a subspecies of the Asian Koel. They are brood parasitic.

6.1. Asian Koel, Eudynamys scolopaceus

Asian Koel
Image By: Steve Garvie – Sri Lanka

Description: The Asian koel, also known as the common koel, is a large cuckoo. The male has a glossy blue-black body and dark blue tail. The bill is pale greenish-grey, eyes are red, the legs are grey. The female has dark brown upperparts with light freckles and heavily striped whitish underparts. It is similar to the Austrlian koel, but their ranges don’t overlap. It is brood parastic. The black-billed koel, Eudynamys s. melanorhynchus, is sometimes considered to be a separate species. It is found on Indonesian islands of Sulawesi, Sula, Banggai, Togian.

Range: South and Southeast Asia, China.

Habitat: Woodlands and gardens.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars, small vertibrates, eggs, fruit.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Asian Koel aspects
Image By: Ravi Vaidyanathan
Asian Koel closeup
Image By: Doug Janson
Asian Koel habitat
Image By: Lip Kee

6.2. Australian Koel, Eudynamys orientalis

Australian Koel
Image By: Geoff Whalan

Description: The Australian koel, also known as the Pacific Koel, is a large cuckoo. The male has a glossy blue-black body and dark blue tail. The bill is pale greenish-grey, eyes are red, the legs are grey. The female has dark brown upperparts with light freckles, light moustacial line, and heavily striped whitish underparts. Their hosts are mainly large honeyeaters (especially noisy friarbirds and red wattlebirds). The Australian koel is similar to the Asian koel, but their ranges do not overlap.

Range: Australasia.

Habitat: Forest, woodlands, gardens.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Australian Koel closeup
Image By: Aviceda
Australian Koel habitat
Image By: Vinni

7. Genus Hierococcyx

The hawk-cuckoos resemble hawks, not only in appearance but also some of their behavior such as how they fly and land on a perch They have yellow eye-rings and yellow feet.

7.1. Common Hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx varius

Common Hawk Cuckoo
Image By: Raju Kasambe

Description: The common hawk-cuckoo has dark grey upperparts. It has whitish underparts with pale rufous bars that meander. The throat is unstreaked. The yellow eyes have a yellow eye-ring. The feet are also yellow. It resembles a shikra in appearance its wing-beats and landing behavior. It is brood parasitic, using babblers as hosts.

Range: Indian subcontinent.

Habitat: Woodlands and gardens.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Common Hawk Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Nbu2012
Common Hawk Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Dhruvaraj

7.2. Dark Hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx bocki

Dark Hawk Cuckoo
Image By: Mike Prince – Borneo

Description: The dark hawk-cuckoo has blackish upperparts and head with a grey throat. The breast is a rufous and white mix while the belly is barred black and white. There is a yellow eye-ring and the feet are also yellow. It was formerly considered conspecific with the large hawk-cuckoo.

Range: Indonesia, Malaysia.

Habitat: Forests.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars. Also eggs, fruit.

Conservation status: Least concern.

7.3. Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx nisicolor

Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo
Image By: Rejaul Karim.rk – India

Description: The Hodgson’s hawk-cuckoo has mainly.grey upperparts with a darker mantle, crown and nape. The breast is white with chestnut streaks and the belly is white. There is a yellow eye-ring and the feet are yellow.

Range: Southeast Asia, China, eastern India, Myanmar.

Habitat: Forests, plantatiions, gardens

Diet: Insects, especially catrpillars. Also lizards and berries.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Peter Morris – Indonesia

7.4. Large Hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx sparverioides

Large Hawk Cuckoo
Image By: PJeganathan

Description: The large hawk-cuckoo is the largest of its genus. It has greyish brown upperparts with the head and nape grey. The tail is white tipped. The is a black chin-spot surrounded by white – this is unique for the hawk-cuckoos. The breast is rufous and the belly is bared black and white. There is a yellow eye-ring and the feet are also yellow.

Range: Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines.

Habitat: Wooded areas, scrub, gardens.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars. Also eggs, berries.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Large Hawk Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Lip Kee – India
Large Hawk Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Lip Kee – India
Large Hawk Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Lip Kee – India

7.5. Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx fugax

Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo
Image By: Naturelly

Description: The Malaysian hawk-cuckoo has grey upperparts with brownish wings. The chin is grey and the throat is white. It has a yellow bill with a black tip. The underparts are white with chestnut streaks on the breast. There are broad black and white bands on the tail. There is a yellow eye-ring and the feet are also yellow.

Range: Southeast Asia.

Habitat: Forests and plantations.

Diet: Insects, mainly caterpillars. Also bettles, frutis, berries.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Johnny Wee – Singapore

7.6. Moustached Hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx vagans 

Moustached Hawk Cuckoo
Image by: Francesco Veronesi – Thailand

Description: The moustached hawk-cuckoo has dark grey upperparts with some brown on the wings. The crown and nape are dark grey, the ear coverts are white, and there is a small blackish moustache. The underparts are creamy-white, with blackish streaks. There is a yellow eye-ring and the feet are also yellow.

Range: Southeast Asia.

Habitat: Forests, plantations.

Diet: Insects, fruit.

Conservation status: The moustached hawk-cuckoo is near threatened because of habitat loss.

7.7. Northern Hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx hyperythrus

Northern Hawk Cuckoo
Image By: Lin Sun Fong

Description: The northern hawk-cuckoo, also known as the rufous hawk-cuckoo, has dark grey upperpars, crown, cheeks, and chin. The underparts are rufous. There is a yellow eye-ring and the feet are also yellow.

Range: Eastern China, North and South Korea, far eastern Russia, Japan, Borneo.

Habitat: Forests, plantations.

Diet: Insects, especially catrpillars. Also beetles, fruit.

Conservation status: Least concern.

7.8. Philippine Hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx pectoralis

Philippine Hawk Cuckoo
Image By: Francesco Veronesi

Description: The Philippine hawk-cuckoo has dark grey upprparts. The breast and upper-belly are pale rufous and the lower-belly is white. There is a yellow eye-ring and the feet are also yellow.

Range: Philippines.

Habitat: Forests and forest edges.

Diet: Insects, especially grasshoppers. Also berries.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Philippine Hawk Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Francesco Veronesi

8. Genus Microdynamis

8.1. Dwarf Koel, Microdynamis parva

Dwarf Koel
Image By: Nik Borrow

Description: The male dwarf koel has brown upperparts. The head is black with a white streak below the eye below which is a black malar stripe. The underparts are buffy with some rufous on the neck. The eyes are red. The female is similar with the black replaced by grey-brown.

Range: New Guinea.

Habitat: Subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.

Diet: Fruit, especially figs.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Dwarf Koel closeup
Image By: Nik Borrow

9. Genus Pachycoccyx

9.1. Thick-Billed Cuckoo, Pachycoccyx audeberti

Thick-Billed Cuckoo
Image By: Ruan Minnaar – South Africa

Description: The thick-billed cuckoo has a very thick bill. It has dark grey to greyish-brown upperparts. The underparts and face are white. The under-tail is mainly white with a few black bars. There is a yellow eye-ring. Unlike most brood parasitic cuckoos, the large-bill cuckoo is blatant when it lays an egg in the host’s nest. It will even forcefully evict the nest’s owner if it necessary to deposit her egg.

Range: Africa.

Habitat: Humid or subhumid forest. Those in east Africa migrate during the dry season.

Diet: Insects, espeically caterpillars and grasshoppers.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Thick-Billed Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Maans Booysen
Thick-Billed Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Nik Borrow – Ghana

10. Genus Scythrops

10.1. Channel-Billed Cuckoo, Scythrops novaehollandiae

Channel-Billed Cuckoo
Image By: Paul Balfe

Description: The channel-billed cuckoo has a very large bill and is the world’s largest cuckoo. It has pale grey mantle, head, and most of the underparts. The under-tail has some thin black bars. The wings and upper-tail are dark grey. It is brood parasitic and because of its size the host birds are large; for example ravens and butcherbirds.

Range: Australasia.

Habitat: Woodlands.

Diet: Fruit, especially figs. Also insects.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Channel-Billed Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Ian Sanderson
Channel-Billed Cuckoo habitat
Image By: James Niland – Queensland
Channel-Billed Cuckoo aspects
Image By: Ralph Green

11. Genus Surniculus

The drongo-cckoos have mainly black plumage. They resemble drongos which have the same general shape and also have black plumage. Whether or not there is an advantage to this resemblance is unknown. It could be a coincidence.

11.1. Fork-Tailed Drongo Cuckoo, Surniculus dicruroides

Fork-Tailed Drongo Cuckoo
Image By: Koshy Koshy

Description: The fork-tailed drongo-cuckoo has glossy black plumage with a blue tinge. It has a forked tail and resembles a drongo of family Dicruridae. The bill is black and it has black orbital skin.

Range: Mainly India, also Sri Lanka and Himi\alayan foothills.

Habitat: Forests, scrub, bamboo.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars. Also fruit.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Fork-Tailed Drongo Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Vijay Ismavel – India
Fork-Tailed Drongo Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Sahana M

11.2. Molucccan Drongo Cuckoo, Surniculus musschenbroeki

Description: The Moluccan drongo-cuckoo has the general appearance of a drongo. It has black upperparts and breast plus it has a forked tail. However it has barring on the under-tail and the bill has a downward curve while a drongo’s is flat.

Range: Indonesia ( Sulawesi, Buton, Obira, Bacan and Halmahera islands).

Habitat: Forests and treed savannas.

Diet: Insects; also fruit.

Conservation status: Least concern.

11.3. Philippine Drongo Cuckoo, Surniculus velutinus

Philippine Drongo Cuckoo
Image By: Sergey Yeliseev

Description: The Philippine drongo-cuckoo has mainly glossy blue-black plumage. There is a white bar on under-wing and some small white feather tips on the under-tail. The bill is slightly down-curved and the tail is slightly forked.

Range: Philippines.

Habitat: The canopy and middle storey of lowland forest.

Diet: Insects.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Philippine Drongo Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Francesco Veronesi

11.4. Square-Tailed Drongo Cuckoo, Surniculus lugubris

Square-Tailed Drongo Cuckoo
Image By: Vijay Ismavel – India

Description: The square-tailed drongo-cuckoo has mainly black plumage. There is a little white on the undertail. The tail is even length (sqaure) and the bill slightly down-curved.

Range: Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines.

Habitat: Forests inluding edges and clearings, plantations.

Diet: Insects, especially caterpillars, spiders, fruit.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Square-Tailed Drongo Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Eric Gropp – Palawan
Square-Tailed Drongo Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Melvin Yap

12. Genus Urodynamis

12.1. Long-Tailed Koel, Urodynamis taitensis

Long-Tailed Koel
Image By: John Gerrard Keulemans

Description: The long-tailed koel, also known as the Pacific long-tailed koel, has a long tail. The brown upperparts and upper-tail have wavey white bars. The white underparts have dark streaks. It has a dark eye-line and a faint white supercilium.

Range: New Zealand and other Pacific Islands.

Habitat: Forest, scrub.

Diet: Insects, eggs, small birds.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Couas

Phaenicophaeinae subfamily contains the couas, malkohas, and ground-cuckoos of Asia.

The members of this cuckoo subfamily are not brood parasites. That is, they lay their eggs in their own nests and raise their chicks. These nests are constructed in trees and bushes. The eggs are white. Except for Raffles’s malkoha, none of the other members of subfamily Phaenicophaeinae exhibit strong sexual dimorphism.

The couas are endemic to Madagascar. The blue coua, the crested coua, and the Verreaux’s coua are arboreal while the remain 6 species are mainly terrestrial. All species have some bare blue orbital skin, the amount and intensity of the blue is species dependent. Depending on the species, they eat insects, small vertebrates, seeds, fruit.

Except for the blue malkoa and the red malkoha, which are found in Africa, these are all Asian birds. There are 7 malkoha genera as presented in this article. The main genus Phaenicophaeus contains at least 6 species. Some authorities present only 5 malkoha genera, placing the disenfranchised species in Phaenicophaeus. The malkohas tend to be arboreal, but many will also seek some prey on the ground. They eat mainly insects including caterpillars; also small vertebrates such as lizard, and fruits.

1. Genus Coua

These cuckoos are found on Madagascar. They have brightly colored bare skin around the eyes.

1.1. Blue Coua, Coua caerulea

Blue Coua
Image By: Ross Tsai

Description: The Blue Coua has mainly blue plumage with blue skin around the eyes.

Range: Madagascar – northwest and eastern areas.

Habitat: Forests, not dry. Rarely found on the ground.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars, fruits, small reptiles.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Blue Coua closeup
Image By: Olaf Riemer

1.2. Coquerel’s Coua, Coua coquereli

Coquerel's Coua
Image By: Ross Tsai

Description: The Coquerel’s coua has a blue patch around eye surrounded by black border. The upperparts are greyish-brown to brown, the bill is black and the legs are grey. There is a pale upper-breast and the rest of the underparts are reddish.

Range: Western Madagascar.

Habitat: Dry deciduous forest where it stays mainly on the ground.

Diet: Insects, spiders, seeds.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Coquerel's Coua habitat
Image By: Dick Daniels – Kirindy Forest, Madagascar
Coquerel's Coua closeup
Image By: Dick Daniels – Kirindy Forest, Madagascar

1.3. Crested Coua, Coua cristata

Crested Coua
Image By: Charles J Sharp

Description: The crested coua has greenish-gray upperparts with a grey crest. The breast is reddish-orange blending to the white belly. It has brown eyes which are surrounded by blue bare orbital skin. The crested coua has a black bill and black legs.

Range: Madagascar. Most widespread of the coups.

Habitat: Mainly in trees.

Diet: Insects, fruits, berries, seeds, snails, and chameleons.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Similar to:

  • Verreaux’s coua – Verreaux’s coua has darker crest than crested coua.
Crested Coua description
Image By: Pat And Keith Taylor – Mosa Spiny Forest Reserve
Crested Coua closeup
Image By: Dick Daniels
Crested Coua habitat
Image By: Dick Daniels – San Diego Zoo

1.4. Giant Coua, Coua gigas

Giant Coua
Image By: J Fi

Description: The Giant Coua has a blue patch around the eye surrounded by black border. It has olive-green upperparts and buff underparts; Coquerel’s coua and the giant coua are similar. Coquerel’s coua has a reddish belly while the Giant Coua belly has very little red.

Range: Southern and western Madagascar.

Habitat: Dry forests.

Diet: Seeds, insects, small vertebrates.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Giant Coua aspects
Image By: Dick Daniels – Kirindy Forest, Madagascar
Giant Coua closeup
Image By: Daniel Guip
Giant Coua habitat
Image By: David Cook

1.5. Red-Breasted Coua, Coua serriana

Red-Breasted Coua
Image By: Amy McAndrews

Description: The Red-breasted Coua has olive-green upperparts; dark red breast; There is a blue patch below eye, white above surrounded and the composite surrounded by black. Of all the coups it has the most white on its face.

Range: northeastern Madagascar.

Habitat: Rain forest. Found mainly on the ground, also in trees.

Diet: Fruit, seeds, insects.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Red-Breasted Coua closeup
Image By: Nick Athanas

1.6. Red-Capped Coua, Coua ruficeps

Red-Capped Coua
Image By: Dick Daniels – Arboretum Near Tulear, Madagascar

Description: The red-capped coua has a red crown and a bright blue patch behind the eyes. It has gray / brown upperparts and pale underparts.

Range: Madagascar.

Habitat: Dry forest. Found mainly on the ground. Similar to: Red-capped Coua. Red-capped coua has red on entire cap white the red-fronted coua has red on the front half of crown. Also, the blue around the red-capped coup is much more striking.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Red-Capped Coua habitat
Image By: Dick Daniels – Arboretum Near Tulear, Madagascar
Red-Capped Coua closeup
Image By: Dick Daniels – Arboretum Near Tulear, Madagascar

1.7. Red-Fronted Coua, Coua reynaudii

Red-Fronted Coua
Image By: Allan Hopkins

Description: The red-fronted coua has red on its crown, brightest in the front. The eyes have some blue around them, a white tear drop at the rear, and a black outline. It has greenish-grey upperparts and lighter grey underparts.

Range: Eastern half of Madagascar.

Habitat: Rain forest. Found mainly on the ground, but nests in trees.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars; also seeds and fruit. Similar to: Red-capped Coua. Red-capped coua has red on entire cap white the red-fronted coua has red on the front half of crown. Also, the blue around the red-capped coup is much more striking.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Red-Fronted Coua habitat
Image By: David Cook
Red-Fronted Coua closeup
Image By: Francesco Veronesi

1.8. Running Coua, Coua cursor

Running Coua
Image By: Alan Harper

Description: The running cola has bare blue skin around the eyes and that blue has a black outline. It has grey-green upper parts including the head and nape. The throat is yellowish-brown, the breast and upper-belly are grayish-purple, and the lower-belly is white. The bill and legs are black.

Range: southwestern Madagascar.

Habitat: Dry areas with little ground cover, so it can easily walk/run.

Diet: Insects.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Running Coua habitat
Image By: Francesco Veronesi
Running Coua closeup
Image By: Alan Harper

1.9. Verreaux’s Coua, Coua verreauxi

Verreaux's Coua
Image By: Zak Pohlen

Description: The Verreaux’s coua has gray upperparts and a dark gray crest. The eyes are brown with blue bare orbital skin; the bill is black. The underparts are mainly white except light grey on the throat.

Range: southwestern tip of Madagascar.

Habitat: The spiny forest zone where there is low rainfall and some spiny scrub related to cacti. They forage in the trees.

Diet: Invertebrates, fruit. Similar to: Crested coua. Verreaux’s coua has darker crest than the crested coua.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Malkoas

1. Genus Ceuthmochares

These two malkohas both have yellow bills. At one time they were treated as the same species and called the yellowbill. Both species are restricted to Africa. As members of the cuckoo family, they are zygodactyl (2 toes point forward, a 2 point to the rear). However, they are not brood parasitic, they build their own nests.

1. Blue Malkoha, Ceuthmochares aereus

Blue Malkoha
Image By: Francesco Veronesi – Ghana

Description: The blue malkoha, also know as the chattering yellowbill, has grayish head, belly, and throat. It has a heavy yellow bill. Depending on subspecies, the blue malkoha has green or green and blue or blue back, wings, tail.

Range: Africa.

Habitat: Tropical rainforest.

Diet: Insects, frogs, slugs, fruit, seeds.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Blue Malkoha habitat
Image By: Francesco Veronesi – Ghana
Blue Malkoha closeup
Image By: Francesco Veronesi – Ghana

1.2. Green Malkoha, Ceuthmochares australis

Green Malkoha
Image By: Steve Garvie

Description: The green malkoha, also known as the whistling yellowbill, has green upperparts; yellow bill.

Range: African east coast.

Habitat: Forest, usually found in the sub-canopy.

Diet: Insects, frogs, slugs, fruit, seeds.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Green Malkoha closeup
Image By: Jim Scarff – South Africa

2. Genus Dasylophus

Instead of a separate genus, these two malkohas are sometimes place in Phaenicophaeus.

2.1. Scale-Feathered Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus cumingi

Scale-Feathered Malkoha
Image By: Lius Limchiu

Description: The scale-feathered malkoha has a grey head and white throat. There is a ribbon of black scale-like feathers from the bottom of the nape, across the head, to the bottom of the throat. It has dark brown upperparts and chestnut breast. The belly and wings are dark while the tail is black with white tips.

Range: Philippines.

Habitat: Mainly in tree; also in undergrowth.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars, snakes, lizards.

Conservation status: Least concern.

2.2. Red-Crested Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus superciliosus

Red-Crested Malkoha
Image By: Eric Gropp

Description: The red-crested malkoha, also known as the rough-crested malkoha, has a spiked red-crest and red skin around the eyes. The rest of the plumage is black except for white tips on the tail feathers.

Range: Luzon island in the Philippines.

Habitat: Mainly forest; also bushes.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Red-Crested Malkoha closeup
Image By: Blake Matheson
Red-Crested Malkoha habitat
Image By: Francesco Veronesi

3. Genus Phaenicophaeus

These malkoha are all found in tropical Asia. The malkohas tend to be arboreal, but many will also seek some prey on the ground. They eat mainly insects including caterpillars; also small vertebrates such as lizard, and fruits. As members of the cuckoo family, malkoha are zygodactyl (2 toes point forward, a 2 point to the rear). However, they are not brood parasitic, they build their own nests.

3.1. Black-Bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus

Black-Bellied Malkoha
Image By: Peter Steward

Description: The black-bellied malkoha has grey upper parts with bluish-green wings. The breast is grey and the belly darker. It has bare red skin around the eye.

Range: Southeast Asia.

Habitat: Subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and mangroves.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars.

Conservation status: It is near treated due to habitat loss.

Black-Bellied Malkoha closeup
Image By: Marc

3.2. Blue-Faced Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus viridirostris

Blue-Faced Malkoha
Image By: Osado – India

Description: The blue-faced malkoha has a pale blue eye-ring. The throat has thin pale streaks and has a spiked appearance. The blue-faced malkoha has dark green upperparts and a large green bill. The upper-tail is dark edged with white and white tip. The under-tail is lighter with large white patches.

Range: India, Sri Lanka.

Habitat: A range of environments: semi-evergreen, deciduous forests, crub forest. In Sri Lanka it is restricted to the plains

Diet: Insects including caterpillars, small vertebrates, fruit. Forages in trees. Wiki says forages in undergrowth.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Blue-Faced Malkoha habitat
Image By: Lip Kee – Sri Lanka
Blue-Faced Malkoha closeup
Image By: Kishore Bhargava

3.3. Chestnut-Bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus

Chestnut-Bellied Malkoha
Image By: Lip Kee – Singapore

Description: The chestnut-bellied malkoha has a large patch of bright red skin around the eye. As one would expect because of its name, it has a chestnut colored belly. The rest of the underparts are grey as is the head. The upperparts are green.

Range: Southeast Asia.

Habitat: Subtropical or tropical lowland forest, mangroves, or swampland.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars.

Conservation status: The chestnut-bellied malkoha is near threatened because of habitat loss due to deforestation.

Chestnut-Bellied Malkoha closeup
Image By: Lip Kee – Singapore
Chestnut-Bellied Malkoha habitat
Image By: Lip Kee – Singapore

3.4. Chestnut-Breasted Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus curvirostris

Chestnut-Breasted Malkoha
Image By: cuatrok77

Description: The chestnut-breasted malkoha has bright red skin around the eye. It has has gray and dark green upperparts, The crown and nape are black; the underparts are chestnut. The large and curved upper mandible is pale while the smaller and straight lower mandible is black. Females have yellow iris and males have blue.

Range: Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines.

Habitat: Subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests including mangroves.

Diet: Lizards, frogs, insects, baby birds; also crustaceans.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Chestnut-Breasted Malkoha aspects
Image By: Evan Parker
Chestnut-Breasted Malkoha habitat
Image By: Dick Daniels – Bronx Zoo
Chestnut-Breasted Malkoha closeup
Image By: Lip Kee – Malaysia

3.5. Green-Billed Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus tristis

Green-Billed Malkoha
Image By: Diyan

Description: The green-billed malkoa has a pale green bill and bare red skin around the eye with a white border. It has dark grey with green gloss upperparts with green wings. The long green tail is white tipped.

Range: Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

Habitat: Forests, bamboo, plantations, etc. Not restricted to a particular habitat.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars; also lizards.

Conservation status: Least concern

Green-Billed Malkoha habitat
Image By: Tarak Kahn
Green-Billed Malkoha closeup
Image By: Lip Kee – India

3.6. Red-Faced Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus

Red-Faced Malkoha
Image By: Steve Garvie

Description: The Red-faced Malkoha has dark green upperparts and a red face. The chin is a mixture of black and white. The crown, throat, and upper-breast are black. The lower-breast and belly are white. There is pale green bill. and the dark grey tail has white edges.

Range: Sri Lanka.

Habitat: Lives in dense forest and forages and nests in trees.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars, small vertebrates such as lizard, fruits.

Conservation status: The red-face malkoha is vulnerable dues to human disruption of its habitat. It mainly dwells in the canopy therefore logging can be devastating to it.

Red-Faced Malkoha habitat
Image By: P Khoo
Red-Faced Malkoha closeup
Image By: Amila Salgado

4. Genus Rhamphococcyx

There is considerable disagreement whether the yellow-billed malkoha deserves its own genus as treated here, or if it should be in Phaenicophaeus.

4.1. Yellow-Billed Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus calyorhynchus

Yellow-Billed Malkoha
Image By: Francesco Veronesi – Tangkoko Sulawesi

Description: The yellow-tiled malkoha has a bright yellow bill and grey head. It has reddish-brown upperparts with dark purple wings. The throat and beast are rufous. The tail is black.

Range: Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Habitat: Mainly forest. Forages in the canopy.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Yellow-Billed Malkoha closeup
Image By: Arie Frahman – North Sulawesi

5. Genus Rhinortha

5.1. Raffles’s Malkoha, Rhinortha chlorophaea

Raffles's Malkoha
Image By: Mark Benedict – Malaysia

Description: The male raffles’s malkoha has rufous upperparts, head. throat, and breast. It has a black tail with grey bars and a white tip. The belly is dark grey. The female raffles’s malkoha has a light grey head and mantle. She has a rufous back, wings, and tail with a white tip.

Range: Southeast Asia (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand).

Habitat: Various places such as forest, forest edge, scrub, swamps, plantations. Feeds in trees mainly, also on the ground.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars, spiders.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Raffles's Malkoha habitat
Image By: Lip Kee – Malaysia
Raffles's Malkoha closeup
Image By: Hiyashi Haka – Malaysia

6. Genus Taccocua

6.1. Sirkeer Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus leschenaultii

Sirkeer Malkoha
Image By: JM Garg – India

Description: The sirkeer malkoha, also known as the sicker cuckoo, has mainly earthy-brown plumage with some rufous on the underparts. The reddish brown eye is bordered above and below by a thin white edge. The hocked red bill has a yellow tip. It ha a long tail that may be edged with white. Juveniles are duller and barred above.

Range: Indian Subcontinent, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka. Also Pakistan.

Habitat: Dry forests, scrub land.

Diet: Insects including carepillars, lizards, fruit. Forages mostly on the ground.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Sirkeer Malkoha closeup
Image By: Jugal Tiwari – India
Sirkeer Malkoha habitat
Image By: Mohan Kemparaju

7. Genus Zanclostomus

7.1. Red-Billed Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus javanicus

Red-Billed Malkoha
Image By: Dick Daniels – San Diego Zoo

Description: The red-billed malkoha has mainly gray plumage. It has a red bill, chin, and throat. Around the eye there is pale grey bare skin. The tail feathers are white tipped.

Range: Southeast Asia.

Habitat: Tree, scrubs, plantation.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars, spiders, crustaceans.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Red-Billed Malkoha habitat
Image By: Lip Kee – Malaysia
Red-Billed Malkoha closeup
Image By: Johnny Wee

8. Genus Carpococcyx

These ground-cuckoos are terrestrial birds that live in humid Asian forests. The nest in trees. As is true for all members of subfamily Phaenicophaeinae, they are not brood parasitic.

8.1. Borneo Ground Cuckoo, Carpococcyx radiceus

Borneo Ground Cuckoo
Image By: Mark Louis Benedict

Description: The Bornean ground-cuckoo has mostly green upperparts. The head and neck are black except for green skin around the eye. The underparts have black and white barring.

Range: Borneo.

Habitat: Forests. Roosts and nests in trees,; forages on the ground (as implied by is name).

Diet: Mainly insects; also fruit.

Conservation status: The Bornean ground-cuckoo is near threatened due to deforestation.

Borneo Ground Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Nicholas LeJeune

8.2. Coral-Billed Ground Cuckoo, Carpococcyx renauldi

Coral-Billed Ground Cuckoo
Image By: Len_Worthington

Description: The coral-billed ground-cuckoo has a red bill which separates it from other members of this genus. The feet are also red. It has grey upperparts. The head, neck, and tail are black. The underparts are whitish with fine black vermiculation. There is bare skin around the eyes which is mainly blue with some red at the top.

Range: Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam.

Habitat: Moist tropical lowland forests.

Diet: Insects; also small reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Conservation status: The coral-billed ground-cuckoo is vulnerable due to capture for food or bird trade. Also, logging is reducing their available habitat.

Coral-Billed Ground Cuckoo habitat
Image By: Alois Staudacher
Coral-Billed Ground Cuckoo closeup
Image By: Alois Staudacher

8.3. Sumatran_Ground Cuckoo, Carpococcyx viridis

Description: The Suamtrang ground-cuckoo has green upperparts, bill, and legs. It has a black crown; and bluish-green orbital skin. The underparts are brown.. The Borneo ground-cuckoo was formerly considered conspecific with the Sumatran ground_cuckoo.

Range: Sumatra of Indonesia.

Habitat: Primary forest with dense undergrowth. It is terrestial.

Diet: Insects; probably also small reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Coucals

Centropodinae subfamily contains the coucals. Some suggest that the coucals should be a family, not a subfamily. The coucals are not brood parasites; that is, they lay their eggs in their own nests and raise their chicks. These nests are constructed in dense vegetation and usually have the top closed. Coucals are found in Africa, Asia, and Australasia.

The plumage of the males and female are the same. Contrary to most species of birds, the females of this subfamily are larger than the males and the males provide most of the care of the chicks.

Many coucals have a long claw on their hind toe. Most coucals have brown or chestnut wings and many have a black head and underparts. They eat insects including caterpillars and grasshopper, spiders, snails, frogs, small snakes, mice, crustaceans, small birds. Most forage stealthily in dense vegetation and are thus hard to observed.

1. Genus Centropus

The coucals are not brood parasites. The smaller male provides most of the parental care. Many coucals have a long claw on their hind toe.

1.1. Andaman Coucal, Centropus andamanensis

Andaman Coucal
Image By: Antony Grossy

Description: The Andaman coucal has greyish brown head, mantle, and underparts. The lower back is chestnut. The tail varies from brown at the base to dark purple-brown at the tip.

Range: Andaman Islands (west of Myanmar in Indian Ocean).

Habitat: Forested habitats and disturbed areas such as gardens.

Diet: Insects, small frogs, crabs and lizards.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Andaman Coucal habitat
Image By: Albinjacob
Andaman Coucal closeup
Image By: TR Raman

1.2. Bay Coucal, Centropus celebensis

Bay Coucal
Image By: AS Kono

Description: The bay coucal has a grey crown. The wings and tail are dark chestnut (that is, bay) while the rest of the plumage is light chestnut. The bill and feet are black.

Range: Indonesia.

Habitat: Subtropical or tropical forests. It is mainly arboreal.

Diet: Large insects, beetles, spiders.

Conservation status: Least concern.

1.3. Biak Coucal, Centropus chalybeus

Description: The Biak coucal has black plumage. The bill is black and the eyes are yellow.

Range: Biak Island of New Guinea.

Habitat: Lowland forest.

Conservation status: It is near threatened by habitat loss.

1.4. Black Coucal, Centropus grillii

Black Coucal
Image By: Darren Bellerby – Maasai Mara, Kenya

Description: During breed season the black coucal is all black except for brown wings. At other times it has dark brown upperparts with rufous barring.

Range: Sub-Saharan Africa.

Habitat: Open areas such as grasslands.

Diet: Insects, especially grasshoppers. Also siders, beetles, small reptiles.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Black Coucal habitat
Image By: Nik Borrow – Uganda, Guinea
Black Coucal closeup
Image By: Nik Borrow – Uganda, Guinea
Black Coucal aspects
Image By: Nik Borrow – Uganda, Guinea

1.5. Black-Faced Coucal, Centropus melanops

Black-Faced Coucal
Image By: Brendan Ryan

Description: The black-faced coucal has a black face. It has pale buff neck and upper-breast while the lower-breast and belly are black. The wings and tail are brown and the eyes are red.

Range: Philippines.

Habitat: Forests.

Conservation status: Least concern.

1.6. Black-Hooded Coucal, Centropus steerii

Description: During breed season the black coucal is all black except for brown wings. At other times it has dark brown upperparts with rufous barring.

Range: Sub-Saharan Africa.

Habitat: Open areas such as grasslands.

Diet: Insects, especially grasshoppers. Also spiders, beetles, small reptiles.

Conservation status: Least concern.

1.7. Black-Throated Coucal, Centropus leucogaster

Black-Throated Coucal
Image By: Nik Borrow – Ghana

Description: The black-throated coucal has a black head, throat, upper-breast, upper-mantle, and tail. The eyes are red and the bill is black. The wings are rufous-chestnut and the thighs, flanks, and under-tail are rufous tinged. The lower-breast and belly are whitish.

Range: West Africa.

Habitat: Forest edges and open areas such as grassland.

Diet: Insects, spiders, frogs.

Conservation status: Least concern.

1.8. Blue-Headed Coucal, Centropus monachus

Blue-Headed Coucal
Image By: Nik Borrow – Uganda, Ghana, Cameroon

Description: The blue-headed coucal has black head, nape, and upper-breast all of which have a blue gloss. The wings are deep chestnut and the tail is black. The underparts are white or pale. The bill is black and the feet are dark.

Range: Central Africa.

Habitat: It is not fussy where it lives. Found in forests, swamps, grasslands, villages.

Diet: It is not a fussy eater either. It eats insects, snails, lizards, mice, birds, and more.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Blue-Headed Coucal habitat
Image By: Nik Borrow – Uganda, Ghana, Cameroon
Blue-Headed Coucal closeup
Image By: Nik Borrow – Uganda, Ghana, Cameroon

1.9. Buff-Headed Coucal, Centropus milo

Buff-Headed Coucal
Image By: John Gould

Description: The buff-headed coucal has a buff head, upper-back, and also the underparts are buff.The rest of the plumage is black. The eyes are red. It is a large coucal with a heavy dark grey bill and short wings. The legs are also grey.

Range: Solomon Islands.

Habitat: Moist lowland and mountain forests.

Diet: Insects such as grasshoppers. Also beetles and centipedes.

Conservation status: Least concern.

1.10. Burchell’s Coucal, Centropus burchelli

Burchell's Coucal
Image By: Derek Keats – South Africa

Description: The Burchell’s coucal is often considered to be a subspecies of the white-browed coucal and is then assigned Centropus superciliosus burchelli. It has a black crown, nape, bill, feet, and tail. The back is rufous-brown and the wings are chestnut. It has a blackish rump. The underparts are creamy-white, the eyes are red.

Range: Sub-Saharan Africa.

Habitat: Areas with thick cover from undergrowth and scrub.

Diet: Insects such as grasshoppers; also lizards, small snakes, frogs, mice.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Burchell's Coucal habitat
Image By: Lip Kee – Botswana
Burchell's Coucal closeup
Image By: Derek Keats – South Africa

1.11. Coppery-Tailed Coucal, Centropus cupreicaudus

Coppery-Tailed Coucal
Image By: Ian White – Zimbabwe

Description: The coppery-tailed coucal has black head, nape, and mantle. The rump is brown with a coppery gloss; and a brownish-black tail. The underparts are white or cream.

Range: South central Africa.

Habitat: Swampland and dense vegetation near rivers.

Diet: Insects, snails, frogs, fish, small animals.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Coppery-Tailed Coucal habitat
Image By: Ian White – Zimbabwe
Coppery-Tailed Coucal closeup
Image By: Frans Vandewalle

1.12. Gabon Coucal, Centropus anselli

Gabon Coucal
Image By: John Gerrard Keulemans

Description: The Gabon coucal has black glossed with purple back, head, and nape. The wings are dark brown. The lower back, rump, and underparts are buff. It has a black feet.

Range: Tropical west-central Africa.

Habitat: Forests, forest edges, swamps.

Diet: Grasshoppers, beetles, mollusks, frogs, birds, lizards, small snakes.

Conservation status: Least concern.

1.13. Goliath Coucal, Centropus goliath

Goliath Coucal
Image By: Francesco Veronesi

Description: The goliath coucal has black plumage except for a broad white patch on the wings. The feet and bill are black.

Range: Maluku Islands (Indonesia).

Habitat: Forests and surrounding areas.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Goliath Coucal closeup
Image By: Paulo Alves

1.14. Greater Coucal, Centropus sinensis

Greater Coucal
Image By: Vijay Ismavel – India

Description: The greater coucal is a large species that has a chestnut brown back and wings. The head is black while the mantle and underparts are also black, but they are glossed with purple. It has red eyes.

Range:
 India, east to south China and Indonesia.

Habitat: Varies from jungle to cultivated land and urban gardens.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars; also small vertebrates, fruit, seeds.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Greater Coucal description
Image By: Imran Shah – Pakistan
Greater Coucal closeup
Image By: Koshy Koshy
Greater Coucal habitat
Image By: Hafiz Issadeen – Sri Lanka

1.15. Greater Black Coucal, Centropus menbeki

Greater Black Coucal
Image By: Duperrey

Description: The greater black coucal, also known as the ivory-billed coucal, has black plumage, It is a large coucal with an ivory-colored bill. The eyes are red.

Range: The Aru Islands and New Guinea.

Habitat: Forest and scrub areas.

Diet: Insects such as caterpillars and grasshoppers, spiders, crustaceans, frogs, small snakes and birds.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Greater Black Coucal habitat
Image By: Katerina Tvardikova

1.16. Green-Billed Coucal, Centropus chlororhynchos

Green-Billed Coucal
Image By: Amila Tennakoon

Description: The green-billed coucal has a light green bill. It has mainly purple-black plumage. The wings are maroon above and black below. The long tail is dark green.

Range: Sri Lanka.

Habitat: Forest with dense undergrowth.

Diet: Snails. Also insects and vertebrates.

Conservation status: The green-billed coucal is listed as vulnerable as the numbers are declining due to habitat loss.

Green-Billed Coucal closeup
Image By: Kisholi Mendis

1.17. Lesser Coucal, Centropus bengalensis

Lesser Coucal
Image By: Vijay Ismavel

Description: The lesser coucal has mainly blackish plumage. The wings are rufous. During the breeding season it has a glossy darkish hood and upper-breast. At other times it has white shafts on its head and back. It has the longest hind-claw of any species in its genus.

Range: Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines.

Habitat: Marshy and grassy areas that are close to forests or scrubs; also second growth forests.

Diet: Insects including grasshoppers and caterpillars. Also crickets, bettles. lizards.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Lesser Coucal habitat
Image By: Hiyashi Haka
Lesser Coucal aspects
Image By: Hiyashi Haka
Lesser Coucal closeup
Image By: Vijay Ismavel

1.18. Lesser Black Coucal, Centropus bernsteini

Lesser Black Coucal
Image By: Jerry Oldenettel – New Guinea

Description: The lesser black coucal, also known as the black-billed coucal, has mainly dark or black plumage and a black bill. It is not easily photographed because it is shy.

Range: New Guinea and nearby islands.

Habitat: Scrub and grasses.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Lesser Black Coucal closeup
Image By: Katerina Tvardikova

1.19. Madagascar Coucal, Centropus toulou

Madagascar Coucal
Image By: Francesco Veronesi

Description: During breeding season the Madagascar coucal, also known as the Malagasy coucal, has mainly black with green gloss plumage. The mid and lower back are reddish-brown. At other times the head, mantle, neck, and upper-breast are brown streaked with cream.

Range: Madagscar and nearby islands.

Habitat: Dense vegetation in forests. Also grasslands, marsh, reeds.

Diet: Large insects, spiders, mollusks, invertebrates.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Madagascar Coucal habitat
Image By: Dick Daniels – Parc Tsarasaotra
Madagascar Couca closeup
Image By: Frank Vassen – Madagascar

1.20. Pheasant Coucal, Centropus phasianinus

Pheasant Coucal
Image By: Jame Niland

Description: The pheasant coucal is similar in appearance to a pheasant. It mainly has black plumage with brown barring and streaks on the upperparts. In breeding season the head is mainly black. The bill and feet are black. Males have red eyes and females have orange eyes.

Range: Australasia.

Habitat: Dense forest understory, or other dense growth such as sugar cane plantations.

Diet: Insects including grasshoppers and caterpillars. Also frogs, small snakes, mice.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Pheasant Coucal habitat
Image By: Katerina Tvardikov
Pheasant Coucal description
Image By: Tatters
Pheasant Coucal closeup
Image By: Arthur Chapman – Queenlsland, Australia

1.21. Philippine Coucal, Centropus viridis

Philippine Coucal
Image By: Blake Matheson

Description: The Philippine coucal has mainly black plumage with chestnut wings.

Range: Philippines.

Habitat: Forest; also tall grass.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars.

Conservation status: Least concern.

1.22. Pied Coucal, Centropus ateralbus

Pied Coucal
Image By: Katerina Tvardikova

Description: The pied coucal, also known as the white-necked council, has mainly black plumage. The neck and upper breast are white. There is a small white patch on the black wings. The forehead is blackish. There are several color morphs. It is the only black-and-white coucal in its range.

Range: Bismarck Archipelago (near New Guinea).

Habitat: Forest, forest edge, and other areas with trees nearby.

Diet: Large insects, beetles, lizards, and more.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Pied Coucal habitat
Image By: Katerina Tvardikova
Pied Coucal description
Image By: David Cook
Pied Coucal closeup
Image By: David Cook

1.23. Rufous Coucal, Centropus unirufus

Rufous Coucal
Image By: David Stang

Description: The rufous coucal has rufous plumage. Around the eyes there is yellow bare skin.

Range: Philippines.

Habitat: Tangled undergrowth.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Rufous Coucal closeup
Image By: Lius LImchiu

1.24. Senegal Coucal, Centropus senegalensis

Senegal Coucal
Image By: Frans Vandewalle – Gambia

Description: The Senegal coucal has a black crown, nape, and tail. The wings are chestnut wings and the underparts, neck, plus cheeks are white.

Range: Central and southern Africa.

Habitat: Grassy habitats with trees, such as savannas.

Diet: Insects including caterpillars, small vertebrates.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Senegal Coucal habitat
Image By: Thom Hasi – Senegal
Senegal Coucal aspects
Image By: Charles Sharp – Gambia
Senegal Coucal closeup
Image By: Thom Hasi – Senegal

1.25. Short-Toed Coucal, Centropus rectunguis

Description: The short-toed coucal has mainly black plumage with chestnut wings. It has a black bill and feet plus red eyes.

Range: southeast Asia.

Habitat: Closed canopy forest, long grass located between 600 and 1700 meters.

Conservation status: The short-short-toed coucal is listed as vulnerable because of habitat loss.

1.26. Sunda Coucal, Centropus nigrorufus

Sunda Coucal
Image By: Fatih PR

Description: The Sunda coucal, also known as the Javan Coucal, has mainly black plumage with rufous wings. The bill and feet are black. The eyes are red.

Range: Java (Indonesia).

Habitat: Wetlands in the rainy season and grassland otherwise.

Diet: Insects including grasshoppers and caterpillars. Also frogs, small snakes, mice.

Conservation status: The Subda coucal is vulnerable because the population is small and threatened by habitat destruction. The species is also threatened by trapping.

1.27. Violaceous Coucal, Centropus violaceus

Violaceous Coucal
Image By: Nik Borrow

Description: The violaceous coucal, also known as the violet coucal, has black pluamage with a violet sheen. It has a black bill. The red eyes are surrounded by pale grey bare skin.

Range: Bismarck Archipelago.

Habitat: Old growth forests.

Diet: Large insects, snails, frogs.

Conservation status: The violaceous coucal is “near threatened” due to a declining population.

Violaceous Coucal habitat
Image By: Katerina Tvardikova
Violaceous Coucal closeup
Image By: Nik Borrow

1.28. White-Browed Coucal, Centropus superciliosus

White-Browed Coucal
Image By: Adrian Valenzuela – Tanzania

Description: The white-browed coucal has a white supercilium. It has a blackish crown, nape, bill, and feet. The back is rufous-brown and the wings are chestnut. It has a blackish rump. The black tail is glossed with green and has a white tip. The underparts are creamy-white, the eyes are red.

Range: Eastern and southern Africa.

Habitat: Areas with thick cover from undergrowth and scrub.

Diet: Insects such as grasshoppers; also lizards, small snakes, frogs, mice.

Conservation status: Least concern.

White-Browed Coucal habitat
Image By: Frederic Salein
White-Browed Coucal closeup
Image By: Mathieu Breitenstein – Kenya
White-Browed Coucal aspects
Image By: Nik Borrow – Uganda