Thursday, February 16

Lesser cuckoo

   ›      ›   Lesser cuckoo - Cuculus poliocephalus.

The lesser cuckoo (Cuculus poliocephalus) belongs to the family of cuckoos, roadrunners, koels and malkohas, Cuculidae.

These cuckoo species are distributed in parts of Indian subcontinent, East Africa, south-eastern China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, eastern Russia, Myanmar and Vietnam. These lesser cuckoo species are brood-parasites, laying eggs in the nest of other birds and relying on the host to raise their young. The lesser cuckoo species are monotypic.

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

Lesser cuckoo - Overview

  • Scientific name: Cuculus poliocephalus
  • Species author: Latham, 1790
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Cuculus poliocephalus Latham, 1790
  • Family: Cuculidae › Cuculiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Lesser cuckoo, Chinese: 小杜鹃, French: Petit Coucou, German: Gackelkuckuck, Spanish: Cuco chico, Russian: Малая кукушка, Japanese: ホトトギス
  • Other names: Asian Lesser Cuckoo, Asian Little Cuckoo, Asian Small Cuckoo
  • Distribution: Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, China, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • Diet and feeding habits:insects like caterpillars, beetles, mantids, locust, crickets, grasshoppers
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The lesser cuckoo (Cuculus poliocephalus) is closely related to Madagascan cuckoo (Cuculus rochii) and Sunda cuckoo (Cuculus lepidus).

Appearance, physical description and identification

The lesser cuckoo (Cuculus poliocephalus) is a small cuckoo, measuring 25 cm in length and weighing 50 grams.

The upperparts of the lesser cuckoo are slaty gray. The tail and the uppertail-coverts are blackish. The tail is tipped white and has white spots on the sides. The head is pale gray. The neck region is pale gray.

The throat and breast are whitish with dark long striations. The vent region and the undertail are pale buff. The irises are brown and the feet are pale yellow. The beak is slate gray. The call is a load husky chattering sound.
Indian birds - Image of Lesser cuckoo - Cuculus poliocephalus
Birds of India - Picture of Lesser cuckoo - Cuculus poliocephalus by Dave Curtis
Birds of India - Photo of Lesser cuckoo - Cuculus poliocephalus
Indian birds - Image of Lesser cuckoo - Cuculus poliocephalus by Dave Curtis
Indian birds - Picture of Lesser cuckoo - Cuculus poliocephalus
Birds of India - Photo of Lesser cuckoo - Cuculus poliocephalus

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The breeding populations of lesser cuckoo are distributed in northern Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir, along the foothills of Himalayas, China, Myanmar, Vietnam, South Korea, North Korea, Eastern Russia and Japan.

In India, the breeding populations are distributed in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Nagaland.

In Africa, the wintering cuckoo population are distributed in Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. These wintering populations also occur in Sri Lanka. The lesser cuckoo populations in Hainan (China) are resident.

Ecosystem and habitat

These lesser cuckoo species are moderately forest dependent. These species occur in altitudes from 1500 to 3660 meters. They inhabit montane forest, shrubland and dry savanna ecosystems.

The lesser cuckoo species inhabit temperate forests, tropical and subtropical high altitude shrublands, moist evergreen montane forests, foothill forests, coniferous forests, mixed pine-oak forests and dry savanna.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these lesser cuckoo species is mostly caterpillars. Caterpillars, grasshoppers, butterflies, beetles, crickets, cicadas, dragonflies and mantids are their primary food. They are also known to feed on fruits, berries and other plant matter.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these cuckoo species is from May to July. These species are brood parasites, mostly laying eggs in the nests of small warblers, wren-babblers and shortwings. They rely on the host to raise their young.

Migration and movement patterns

The lesser cuckoo is a fully migrant bird.

The breeding populations occur in northern Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir, along the foothills of Himalayas, China, Myanmar, Vietnam, South Korea, North Korea, Eastern Russia and Japan.

With the approach of winter, these northern populations migrate to Sri Lanka and central-eastern Africa for wintering. By early summer these populations return to their breeding grounds. The populations in Hainan (China) appear to be resident.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the lesser cuckoo (Cuculus poliocephalus) has not been quantified. The overall population size of these species is considered to be stable. Throughout its range it is reported to be fairly common. The generation length is 7 years. Their distribution size is about 12,300,000 sq.km.

The lesser cuckoo (Cuculus poliocephalus) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion, or the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. Degradation and fragmentation of forests and loss of habitat are the main 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 lesser cuckoo (Cuculus poliocephalus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Cuculus poliocephalus
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Cuculiformes
Family:Cuculidae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Cuculus
Species:C. poliocephalus
Binomial name:Cuculus poliocephalus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/davethebird/28619005072/
Image author: Dave Curtis | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (as on 12/02/2017)
2.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/davethebird/28691999776/
Image author: Dave Curtis | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (as on 12/02/2017)
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