Bird Families

Cuckoos: by tossing chicks, the bird does not get rid of them, but saves


| Malay Sunda Cuckoo - Wiki ..

Malay Sunda cuckoo

The Malay Sunda cuckoo is a cuckoo from the genus Cuculus in the family Cuculidae, inhabiting Southeast Asia. Previously, this species was considered as one of the forms of the polytypic species Cuculus saturatus, together with the Himalayan C. saturatus and the deaf cuckoo, which are now all considered as separate species. Cuculus lepidus has been designated a separate species based on differences in vocalization, size, and coloration.

1. Description

Body length 29 - 30 cm. Top, throat and upper chest are dark gray. The lower part of the body is mottled with black stripes. The tail is blackish with white spots. Females may also belong to the rufous morph, which has a tawny-brown upper body, paler lower body, and black streaked top and bottom. The Himalayan species Cuculus saturatus and the deaf cuckoo are similar to Cuculus lepidus, but are paler, with less dark yellow in the belly and narrower black streaks.

The Cuculus lepidus song usually consists of a short first note followed by two or three longer and lower notes, reminiscent of "ooop". The whole song is generally higher in pitch than that of the Himalayan Cuculus saturatus, which emits three or four shouts - "uup uup".

2. Taxonomy

This cuckoo was first described as a species in 1845 by the German naturalist Salomon Müller. In 1940 it was classified as a subspecies of the little cuckoo C. poliocephalus by James Lee Peters in his Check-list of the Birds of the World. In 1975, J. Becking concluded that it was a form of C. saturatus based on their similarity in voice, color and ultra-shell structure and choice of nest host for raising chicks. Ben King suggested in 2005 that this form should be considered a distinct species based on differences in size, plumage color, and recent vocalization research.

Two subspecies are usually distinguished. The nominative subspecies Cuculus lepidus inhabits a large part of the range of this species. The subspecies Cuculus lepidus insulindae is found in Borneo and has a darker coloration of the lower body.

3. Distribution and habitats

Its range covers the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Seram and the Lesser Sunda Islands and to the east Timor. It is a sedentary, non-migratory species, in contrast to the Himalayan and deaf cuckoos, whose ranges overlap with those of Cuculus lepidus during wintering. It is found in forests, mainly in mountainous areas, at an altitude of 950 - 1700 m on the Malacca Peninsula, 1300 - 2700 m on the island of Borneo and above 1000 m on the islands of Java, Sumatra and the Wallace Islands. The species is believed to be slowly declining, but it still occupies a significant range and its overall abundance is high enough that its status is classified as requiring least attention according to BirdLife International.

4. Behavior

It feeds mainly on insects, in particular caterpillars, and can also eat fruits. It is a secretive bird that is difficult to spot except when it screams.

Breeding parasite, lays eggs in nests of other birds. Nest use has been reported for Seicercus castaniceps in the Malay Peninsula, Phylloscopus trivirgatus and Seicercus montis in Sabah, and Phylloscopus trivirgatus, Seicercus grammiceps and Horornis vulcania in Java. Eggs are whitish with brown spots.

The appearance of a cuckoo

Let's analyze the appearance of these birds using the example of ordinary cuckoos.

Body length varies between 35-38 centimeters. The tail is 13-18 centimeters long. These birds weigh about 130 grams.

Cuckoos are the most famous nesting parasites.

The wingspan is approximately 55 centimeters. The limbs are short and strong. Feathers on the back and tail of males are dark blue. The chest and throat are light gray in color. The rest of the body is light, has dark stripes. The legs are yellow, the beak is dark.

In the color of females, brown and red shades prevail. The head and back are crossed by black stripes. The feathers are edged with a white border. On a light chest there are well-defined narrow stripes of black and white. The weight of females does not exceed 110 grams.

The young are generally pale red in color. Darker stripes cross the entire length of the body. Cuckoos molt 2 times a year. In summer they change their plumage partially, and completely in winter.

Declension of the noun cuckoo

CaseQuestionUnit numberMn. number
Nominative(who what?)cuckoocuckoos
Genitive(who, what?)cuckooscuckoos
Dative(to whom; to what?)cuckoocuckoos
Accusative(who, what?)cuckoocuckoos
Instrumental(by whom, by what?)cuckoocuckoos
Prepositional(About who about what?)cuckoocuckoos

On the behavior and nutrition of the nest parasite

Cuckoos feed mainly on insects: tree beetles and caterpillars, which damage the trunks and leaves of trees. In addition to insects, the cuckoo's diet includes eggs and chicks of other birds. Cuckoos do not eat their chicks and eggs, which could not be thrown.

An irresponsible mother carries out the "operation" of throwing an egg in 8 seconds.

It is the males who cook, and the females are more silent, because they always try so that no one will notice them. Indeed, in order to toss your eggs into other people's nests, you need to behave extremely unnoticed.

At the beginning of spring, cuckoos travel from Africa to Asia and Europe. Birds lead a solitary life. Males own large territories, which can reach several hectares. Females have less extensive plots. The most important thing for cuckoos is that there are nests of other birds on their territory.

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Notes (edit)

  1. Boehme R.L., Flint V.E.
    A five-language dictionary of animal names. Birds. Latin, Russian, English, German, French / Edited by Acad. V.E.Sokolova. - M .: Rus. lang., "RUSSO", 1994. - P. 135. - 2030 copies. - ISBN 5-200-00643-0.
  2. 123
    Koblik, 2001.
  3. 12
    Payne, 1997, p. 481.
  4. [ Philippine cuckoo · Hierococcyx pectoralis · Cabanis & Heine, 1863]
  5. A. D. Numerov
    Interspecific and intraspecific nesting parasitism in birds. Voronezh: FSUE IPF Voronezh. 2003, p. 27.
  6. A. D. Numerov
    Interspecific and intraspecific nesting parasitism in birds. Voronezh: FSUE IPF Voronezh. 2003, p. 30.
  7. A. D. Numerov
    Interspecific and intraspecific nesting parasitism in birds. Voronezh: FSUE IPF Voronezh. 2003, p. 40.
  8. [ Malay Sunda cuckoo · Cuculus lepidus · Müller, S, 1845]
  9. A. D. Numerov
    Interspecific and intraspecific nesting parasitism in birds. Voronezh: FSUE IPF Voronezh. 2003, p. 47.


  • Buturlin S.A., Dementyev G.P.
    Complete guide to birds of the USSR. T. 3. - M .: KOIZ, 1936 .-- 254 p. - S. 159-164.
  • E. A. Koblik
    A variety of birds (based on materials from the exposition of the Zoological Museum of Moscow State University. Part 2) 5-211-04072-4.
  • Payne, Robert B. 1997. Family Cuculidae (Cuckoos) in del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., & Sargatal, J., eds.
    Volume 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos // Handbook of the birds of the world. - Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, 1997 .-- ISBN 8487334229.

Breeding features

The male, similar to the plumage of a hawk, circles over the chosen nest until the frightened bird leaves its home. A female cuckoo needs 10-16 seconds to lay its own egg and kidnap one master's egg.

This is a unique feature because most birds only have three toes. Cuckoo birds are extremely varied in color. The man has a light gray upper body, head, neck and chest. Its tail is grayish gray and covered with white, round spots. Its edge has a bright end. The lower part of the body is the belly, covered with transverse gray-white stripes.

There are two types of coloration in women. In the first, like in the male, the dominant color is gray, but rusty fragments appear on the neck. In the second type of coloration, the color of rust predominates, and the stripes on the underside of the body are black. The cuckoo's bow is small, black and yellowish at the base. Iris is also yellow in color.

If the cuckoo sees that the clutch is already well hatched, it eats up all the eggs of the owners, forcing them to reproduce again.

Cuckoo chick in the nest of the forest horse.

Cuckoo waiting for adoptive parents (meadow pipits).

Cuckoo chick and adoptive parent.


The cuckoo is found on all continents of our planet. The only exceptions are Antarctica and the Arctic, where conditions for it are extremely unfavorable and uncomfortable.

The most common habitat regions: Asia, the Old World, South and North America, Africa, the Australian continent. The bird also lives on the territory of Russia. European and North Asian cuckoos are nomadic due to the climatic characteristics of these regions. In southern countries, where the sun warms all year round, the birds feel comfortable, and therefore never leave their homeland.

Favorite nesting sites are woody vegetation, dense shrubs and reeds found in alpine forests or along the coastline. Sometimes birds settle directly on the ground.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Little cuckoo

Common cuckoos are completely solitary and polygamous. They do not gather in flocks, and pairs are formed only for one season. But at the same time, the mating rituals of these birds are quite filled with romance. Usually the male waves his tail like a fan and beckons to the female. Her lowered head and wings are signs of recognition and appeal. The male may also donate a twig or stem as a token of attention. Reproduction takes place from mid-spring to mid-summer.

In the conventional sense, there is no nesting territory for cuckoos. On the same site, you can find both one female and several males, and vice versa. A nesting site can be considered a site where a female cuckoo searches for other people's suitable nests in order to lay her eggs in them, one in each. But sometimes two females are found in the same area. In this case, they parasitize on birds of different species.

Interesting fact: The incubation period of the eggs of the common cuckoo is 11, less often 12 days. Therefore, the cuckoo is born earlier than its half-brothers and receives a significant advantage over them in the struggle for food brought by adoptive parents.

For the first four days, the behavior of the chick is aimed at displacing the remaining eggs and hatched chicks from the nest. The cuckoo sits down under another chick, and then moves back to the edge of the nest, where it sharply straightens up so that the victim flies down. He does it instinctively, and after four days the instinct disappears.

The independent existence of the cuckoo begins 40 days after hatching, when the plumage is fully formed in the bird. Until this time, the chick devours foster parents. Feeding occurs constantly, even when the cuckoo grows larger than the birds feeding it. The cuckoo can leave the nest even after 20 days, but due to the fact that it publishes characteristic cries asking for food, the adoptive parents continue to feed it even after that.

Curious facts

The polygamous family has good reasons to toss eggs. First, they don't build their own nest. The second is too many eggs in one clutch: up to 25.

There is a bird in whose nest the cuckoo never throws eggs. This is a titmouse.

In many cultures, the cuckoo is considered the personification of suffering and the herald of bad events. Her singing is a sign of a bad harvest, disease, imminent death and other troubles.

Only the male cakes. He sings his song during the mating season to attract a partner.

The name of birds has no gender division, both males and females are named the same.

Other members of the cuckoo family also cook.

The layman does not always recognize a cuckoo from a photo. It's all about the variety of species and their external distinctive features.


The Latin name of the species comes from the Latin Cuculus

(cuckoo) and
(melodic, from canere, which means to sing). The whole family of cuckoos got its name and genus name from onomatopoeia for the calling call of the male common cuckoo.

There are four subspecies of this type:

  • S. s. canorus
    , a nominative subspecies, was first described by Linnaeus in 1758. Its range extends from the British Isles through Scandinavia, northern Russia and Siberia to Japan in the east, and from the Pyrenees through Turkey, Kazakhstan, Mongolia to northern China and Korea. It is assumed to winters in Africa and South Asia.
  • C. c. bakeri
    first described by Hartert in 1912, breeds in western China in the Himalayan foothills in northern India, Nepal, Myanmar, northwestern Thailand and southern China. In winter, it is found in Assam, East Bengal and Southeast Asia.
  • C. c. bangsi
    first described in 1919 by Oberholser [en], the nesting area covers the Iberian Peninsula, the Balearic Islands and North Africa, winters in Africa.
  • C. c. subtelephonus
    first described by Zarudny in 1914, breeds in Central Asia from Turkestan to southern Mongolia. It is assumed to migrate to South Asia and Africa by winter.