Saturday, February 11

Himalayan cuckoo

   ›      ›   Himalayan cuckoo - Cuculus saturatus.

The Himalayan cuckoo (Cuculus saturatus) belongs to the family of cuckoos, roadrunners and koels, Cuculidae.

These cuckoo species are distributed in parts of north and northeast India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, southern China, Taiwan, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and New Guinea.

These Himalayan cuckoo species are brood parasites, laying eggs in the nest of other birds and rely on the host to raise their young. There are two recognized subspecies of the Himalayan cuckoo.

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

Himalayan cuckoo - Overview

  • Scientific name: Cuculus saturatus
  • Species author: Blyth, 1843
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Cuculus saturatus Blyth, 1843
  • Family: Cuculidae › Cuculiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Himalayan cuckoo, Chinese: 中杜鹃, French: Coucou oriental, German: Hopfkuckuck, Spanish: Cuco oriental, Russian: Глухая кукушка, Japanese: ツツドリ, Malay: Burung Sewah Dada Putih, Indonesian: Burung Kangkok Ranting
  • Other names: Blyth's Cuckoo, Oriental Cuckoo, Horsfield's or Sunda Cuckoo
  • Distribution: northern India bordering south Himalayas, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, southern China, Taiwan, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea
  • Diet and feeding habits: wild fruits, berries, insects, hairy caterpillars, crickets, grasshoppers, cicadas, dragonflies
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The Himalayan cuckoo (Cuculus saturatus) is closely related to the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), the African cuckoo (Cuculus gularis) and the Madagascan cuckoo (Cuculus rochii).

The two recognized subspecies of Cuculus saturatus are: C. s. optatus Gould, 1845, and C. s. saturatus Blyth, 1843. C. [s.] optatus was considered as separate species due to distinct song. However, the differences are considered as minor and C. s. optatus is given subspecies status.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Himalayan cuckoo (Cuculus saturatus) is a small cuckoo, measuring 30 to 35 cm in length and weighing 70 to 140 grams. The upperside is dark ash gray. The head, neck, throat and nape are pale ash gray. The tail is dark grayish brown with pale stripes and spots. The breast is whitish with dark gray stripes. The undertail is creamy white with dark stripes.

The tail of these Himalayan cuckoo species is rounded with whitish tip. The upper mandible is pale gray with pale yellow base. The lower mandible pale yellow. The feet are pale yellow. The irises are pale brown. The bare ring around the eyes is yellow. The male sings around dawn and dusk.
Indian birds - Picture of Himalayan cuckoo - Cuculus saturatus
Birds of India - Image of Himalayan cuckoo - Cuculus saturatus
Birds of India - Image of Himalayan cuckoo - Cuculus saturatus
Indian birds - Photo of Himalayan cuckoo - Cuculus saturatus
Indian birds - Photo of Himalayan cuckoo - Cuculus saturatus
Birds of India - Picture of Himalayan cuckoo - Cuculus saturatus by ken

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Himalayan cuckoo subspecies C. s. saturatus is distributed in parts of north and northeast India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, southern China, Taiwan, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and New Guinea.

The subspecies C. s. optatus is distributed in European Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, north China, Korea and Japan. Wintering populations are found in southeast Asia, Indonesia, Philippines and Australia.

In India, the Himalayan cuckoo is distributed in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, north Punjab, north Haryana, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, north West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram.

Ecosystem and habitat

These Himalayan cuckoo species are moderately forest dependent. They inhabit various boreal, montane forests and wooded ecosystems.

These Himalayan cuckoo species inhabit boreal forests, high coniferous forests, tropical and subtropical forests, broad-leaved forests, taiga, moist montane forests, mixed coniferous/deciduous forests, ravines, wetland fringes, temperate shrublands and temperate forests. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 4500 meters.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these Himalayan cuckoo species is mostly caterpillars. Their primary food is caterpillars and large insects like grasshoppers, cicadas, crickets and dragonflies. They are also known to feed on fruits, berries and plant matter.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the Himalayan cuckoo species is in May and June in Kashmir and from March to August in Nepal. These Himalayan cuckoo species are brood parasites, mostly laying eggs in the nests of small warblers of the Phylloscopus genus.

Migration and movement patterns

The Himalayan cuckoo is a fully migrant bird. The breeding populations occur in European Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, north China, Korea, Japan, north and northeast India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Taiwan and Thailand.

These species migrate to Malay Peninsula, Indonesia, Philippines and Australia for wintering. Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Himalayan cuckoo (Cuculus saturatus) is estimated to be around 5,000,000 to 14,000,000 mature individual birds. The overall population size of these Himalayan cuckoo species is considered to be stable. Throughout its range it is reported to be generally common. The generation length is 7.0 years. Their distribution size is about 36,600,000 sq.km.

The Himalayan cuckoo (Cuculus saturatus) 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. The ongoing destruction of their habitat is the main threat 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 Himalayan cuckoo (Cuculus saturatus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Cuculus saturatus
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Cuculiformes
Family:Cuculidae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Cuculus
Species:C. saturatus
Binomial name:Cuculus saturatus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
Popular posts in Birds of India


1.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oriental_Cuckoo_front_Maiala.JPG
Image author: Aviceda | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
2.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oriental_Cuckoo_Maiala.JPG
Image author: Aviceda | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
3.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ken_san/253693788/
Image author: ken | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (as on 11-02-2017)
Current topic in Birds of India: Himalayan cuckoo - Cuculus saturatus.

Contact State Tourism or travel agents for bird watching and wildlife tours.