Saturday, December 31

Common cuckoo

   ›      ›   Common cuckoo - Cuculus canorus.

The common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) belongs to the family of cuckoos, Cuculidae.

These cuckoo species have an extremely large range, spread over Europe, Asia, Africa and Indian subcontinent. The common cuckoos are brood parasites, laying eggs in the nest of other birds and rely on the host to raise their young. There are four recognized subspecies of the common cuckoo.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Common Cuckoo Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Common cuckoo - Overview

  • Scientific name: Cuculus canorus
  • Species author: Linnaeus, 1758
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Cuculus canorus Linnaeus, 1758
  • Family: Cuculidae › Cuculiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Common cuckoo, Chinese: 大杜鹃, French: Coucou gris, German: Kuckuck, Spanish: Cuco común, Russian: Обыкновенная кукушка, Japanese: カッコウ, Indonesian: Burung Kangkok Erasia
  • Other names: Eurasian Cuckoo, European Cuckoo, Gray Cuckoo
  • Distribution: Indian subcontinent, Asia, Africa, Europe
  • Diet and feeding habits: caterpillars, dragonflies, moths, damselflies, mayflies, butterflies, crickets, cicadas, beetles
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) is closely related to African cuckoo (Cuculus gularis), Himalayan cuckoo (Cuculus saturatus) and Madagascan cuckoo (Cuculus rochii).

The four recognized subspecies of Cuculus canorus are: Cuculus canorus canorus Linnaeus, 1758, Cuculus canorus bangsi Oberholser, 1919, Cuculus canorus subtelephonus Zarudny, 1914 and Cuculus canorus bakeri E. J. O. Hartert, 1912.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) is a medium-sized cuckoo, measuring 30 to 35 cm in length and weighing 115 grams. The wingspan is 55 to 60 cm.
The overall plumage of common cuckoo is slate gray. The adult male has dark slaty gray upperparts. The throat and the upper breast are also slaty gray. The upper breast has a sharp demarcation and the underparts are whitish with dark gray barring. The tail is blackish with brown tinge. The tail has uneven black barring and sparse pale gray spotting. The tail feathers have whitish tips and the upper wing-coverts have whitish edges.

There are occasional rufous color morphs occurring among the adult common cuckoo females. In normal females the neck, throat and breast are pale slaty gray. The underpart is whitish and has thin, dark, grayish brown barring. The feet are short and colored yellow. The bill is short and colored gray. The irises, eye ring and the base of the bill are yellow. Their call is a repeated loud "coo coo" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Common cuckoo - Cuculus canorus
Birds of India - Image of Common cuckoo - Cuculus canorus
Birds of India - Photo of Common cuckoo - Cuculus canorus
Indian birds - Picture of Common cuckoo - Cuculus canorus
Indian birds - Image of Common cuckoo - Cuculus canorus
Birds of India - Photo of Common cuckoo - Cuculus canorus

Origin, geographical range and distribution

These common cuckoo species are widely distributed in Asia, Europe, Africa and Indian subcontinent.

The breeding population of the common cuckoo subspecies C. c. canorus is distributed in Europe, West Asia, Middle East, Mediterranean, northern and eastern Asia. These subspecies winter in Africa and southern Asia.

The common cuckoo subspecies C. c. bangsi is distributed in Iberian Peninsula, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. It winters in Africa, south of Sahara. The subspecies C. c. subtelephonus is distributed in Central Asia and eastern Asia. These subspecies winter in southern Asia and Africa.

The common cuckoo subspecies C. c. bakeri is distributed in Himalayan foothills in northern India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India), Lakshadweep Islands (India), Nepal, Bhutan, northern Myanmar, northern Thailand, northern Laos, northern Vietnam and southern China. These subspecies winter in Assam, Bangladesh and southeast Asia.

Ecosystem and habitat

These common cuckoo species have moderate forest dependence. They inhabit subtropical, temperate, evergreen and moist deciduous forest ecosystems.

These common cuckoo species inhabit tropical and subtropical evergreen forest, moist deciduous forest, coniferous forest, forest clearances, degraded forest, montane and submontane woodland, secondary-growth forest, temperate and subtropical moist lowland, temperate and subtropical moist shrubland, wooded steppe, heathland, meadows, reedbeds, moorland, farmland, plantations, pasture, rural garden and urban parks. They occur in altitudes from 0 to 3800 meters.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these cuckoo species is mostly hairy caterpillars. Dragonflies, damselflies, moths, mayflies, crickets, grasshoppers, cicadas, butterflies, centipedes and beetles are also their primary food. They are mostly arboreal. They also feed from the ground.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these common cuckoo species is during April to July in India and Myanmar. The breading season is from May to July in Europe and is during April and May in Algeria and Morocco. The common cuckoos are brood parasites, laying eggs in the nest of other birds and rely on the host to raise their young.

The plumage of these cuckoo species is similar to that of Eurasian sparrowhawk. The male mimics the sparrowhawk and distracts the attention of the host species, giving female time to lay eggs. The female cuckoo normally removes one or two host eggs before laying its egg in the nest. The eggs usually appear similar to host eggs in color and spotting.

Migration and movement patterns

These common cuckoo species are migratory.
The populations in the temperate regions of Europe and Asia migrate to Africa, southern Asia and southeast Asia for wintering. Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations. They may also make local movements for feeding and breeding in their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) has been estimated to be about 40,000,000 to 75,000,000 individual birds. The overall population size of these species is considered to be declining. Throughout its range its occurrence is reported to be common. The generation length is 7 years. Their distribution size is about 61,200,000 sq.km.

The common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion.

There is sharp decline in their number in the European range. The intensification of agriculture (resulting in fewer insects and nest host species) and indiscriminate use of pesticides are the threats that may endanger the survival of these species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the cuckoo species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Cuculus canorus
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Cuculiformes
Family:Cuculidae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Cuculus
Species:C. canorus
Binomial name:Cuculus canorus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cuculus_canorus_vogelartinfo_chris_romeiks_CHR0431.jpg
Image author: Vogelartinfo | License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
2.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:K%C3%A4gu_%C3%B5unapuul.jpg
Image author: Locaguapa | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
3.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cuculus_canorus_vogelartinfo.jpg
Image author: Vogelartinfo | License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
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