Indian cuckoo

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The Indian cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus) belongs to the family of cuckoos, Cuculidae.

These species of cuckoos are distributed in Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and temperate East Asia. These Indian cuckoos 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 these cuckoos.
Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Indian cuckoo - Overview

  • Scientific name: Cuculus micropterus
  • Species author: Gould, 1837
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Cuculus micropterus Gould, 1838
  • Family: Cuculidae › Cuculiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Indian cuckoo, Chinese: 四声杜鹃, French: Coucou à ailes courtes, German: Kurzflügelkuckuck, Spanish: Cuco alicorto, Russian: Индийская кукушка, Japanese: セグロカッコウ, Indonesian: Belanda mabok
  • Other names: Short-winged Cuckoo
  • Distribution: Indian subcontinent, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, vietnam, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines
  • Diet and feeding habits: caterpillars, butterflies, grasshoppers, ants, locusts, cicadas, berries, fruits
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The two recognized subspecies of the Indian cuckoo are: Cuculus micropterus micropterus Gould, 1838 and Cuculus micropterus concretus S. Müller, 1845.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Indian cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus) is a medium-sized slender bird, measuring 30 to 35 cm in length and weighing 120 grams.
The upperparts of cuckoo are slaty-gray with brownish tinge. The underparts are whitish with broad black barring. The tail is barred black at the sides with a broad subterminal blackish band and a white tip. Similar to common hawk-cuckoo, the eye-ring is grayish yellow. The irises are brownish red. The feet are orange.

The female cuckoo has slightly paler throat and more brown plumage. The juvenile has brown upperside with white bands and streaks. The underside in juvenile is whitish with brownish bands and streaks. The cuckoo call is a repeated, loud, flute-like "ko-ka-ta-ko" sound.
Picture of - Cuculus micropterus
Image of Indian cuckoo - Cuculus micropterus
Photo of - Cuculus micropterus
Picture of Indian cuckoo - Cuculus micropterus by Gary Albert
Image of Indian cuckoo - Cuculus micropterus
Photo of Indian cuckoo - Cuculus micropterus

Origin, geographical range and distribution

These cuckoo species are distributed in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, Maldives, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, vietnam, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Philippines. Vagrant birds occur in Japan and Pakistan.

The Indian cuckoo subspecies C. m. micropterus is distributed in Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, China, Russia, Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. They winter in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines. The subspecies C. m. concretus is distributed in southern Vietnam, Cambodia, southern Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Ecosystem and habitat

These Indian cuckoo species are moderately forest dependent. They inhabit various woodland ecosystems. They inhabit deciduous and evergreen forests, farmlands, fallow agricultural fields, parks, rural gardens, plantations, montane and submontane forests, degraded forests, subtropical forests, tropical moist lowlands, dry tropical shrubland, temperate shrubland and temperate forests. They occur in altitudes of 0 to 2800 meters.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these cuckoo species is mostly caterpillars, butterflies, grasshoppers, ants, locusts and cicadas. They glean insects on the upper canopy. They also feed on berries and fruits. They also “hawk” airborne termites and ants.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these cuckoo species is from May to July in Indian subcontinent. The breeding season is from January to August in Malaysia. The cuckoo species are brood parasites, laying eggs in the nest of other birds and rely on the host to raise their young. Normally one egg is laid in the nests of host species. In India, the hosts are drongos and crows. The cuckoo hatchling may heave out other eggs and nestlings of the host.

Migration and movement patterns

These cuckoo species are sedentary and resident birds in the southern parts of their range.
The cuckoo populations in eastern temperate Asia are migratory and move southwards to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines for wintering. Post breeding dispersal of juveniles takes place. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Indian cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus) is not quantified. The overall population size of these cuckoo species is considered to be stable. Throughout its ranges it is common and widespread. Their generation length is 7 years.

The cuckoo 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.

IUCN status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the Indian cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus) and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

Taxonomy and scientific classification of Cuculus micropterus
Species:C. micropterus
Binomial name:Cuculus micropterus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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Image author: Gary Albert | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (as on 2016-12-18)
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