Grey-bellied cuckoo

   ›      ›   Grey-bellied cuckoo - Cacomantis passerinus

The grey-bellied cuckoo (Cacomantis passerinus) belongs to the family of roadrunners, koels, malkohas, couas and cuckoos, Psittaculidae.

These grey-bellied cuckoo species are distributed in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. These species are also known as Indian plaintive cuckoos. The grey-bellied cuckoo is a monotypic species.

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

Grey-bellied cuckoo - Overview

  • Scientific name: Cacomantis passerinus
  • Species author: (Vahl, 1797)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Cuculus passerinus Vahl, 1797
  • Family: Cuculidae › Cuculiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Grey-bellied cuckoo, Chinese: 灰腹杜鹃, French: Coucou à tête grise, German: Graubauchkuckuck, Spanish: Cuco pechigrís, Russian:Сероклювая щетенистая кукушка, Japanese: ハイバラカッコウ, Tamil: Chakkalathi Kuyil
  • Other names: Indian plaintive cuckoo
  • Distribution: Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar
  • Diet and feeding habits: caterpillars, insects
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The grey-bellied cuckoo (Cacomantis passerinus) is closely related to the plaintive cuckoo (Cacomantis merulinus).

Appearance, physical description and identification

The grey-bellied cuckoo (Cacomantis passerinus) is a small bird measuring 18 to 25 cm in length.

The overall plumage of the grey-bellied cuckoo is slate color. The underparts are paler or whitish. The tail is blackish with white tip. There is a white patch on the wings. There are darker striations on the upperside and the undertail is barred.

The bill is steel black. The irises are dark brown. The legs are yellowish. The two inner toes point forward and the two outer backward. Their call is a loud, plaintive "pee-pip-pee-pee" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Grey-bellied cuckoo - Cacomantis passerinus
Birds of India - Image of Grey-bellied cuckoo - Cacomantis passerinus by Sasidharanmanekkara

Birds of India - Photo of Grey-bellied cuckoo - Cacomantis passerinus
Indian birds - Picture of Grey-bellied cuckoo - Cacomantis passerinus by Vivekpuliyeri

Indian birds - Image of Grey-bellied cuckoo - Cacomantis passerinus
Birds of India - Photo of Grey-bellied cuckoo - Cacomantis passerinus by Karunakar Rayker

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The grey-bellied cuckoo species are distributed in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives. Vagrants have been observed in Oman.

In India, these cuckoo species are distributed in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Assam, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Ecosystem and habitat

These grey-bellied cuckoo species have low forest dependency. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 100 meters.

These cuckoo species inhabit artificial ecosystems like agricultural lands, plantations, rural gardens, pastureland and tropical and subtropical degraded forests.

The natural ecosystems of these cuckoos includes tropical and subtropical dry grasslands, tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, subtropical pine forests, moist and dry deciduous woodlands, open woodland and tropical and subtropical moist shrublands.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these grey-bellied cuckoo species is mostly caterpillars. A variety of insects and caterpillars are their primary food. The prey is rubbed on hard surfaces before swallowing.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the grey-bellied cuckoo is from April to June in Nepal and Bhutan. The laying season is from March to September in Pakistan. The breeding season is from April to June in Eastern Ghats in India.

These species are brood-parasites, laying eggs in the nest of other birds and relying on the host to raise their young. A single egg is laid in the host nest. The breeding season of these species coincides with the local breeding season of the host species, the warblers.

Migration and movement patterns

The grey-bellied cuckoo species are partially migratory birds.

The northern populations in north Pakistan, north India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh are migratory. These populations move southwards to Sri Lanka for wintering.

The populations of these cuckoo species in peninsular India are resident. Post breeding, juvenile cuckoos 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 grey-bellied cuckoo (Cacomantis passerinus) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these cuckoo species is considered to be stable. Throughout its range it is reported to be common to fairly common. The generation length is 4.2 years. Their distribution size is about 3,270,000

The grey-bellied cuckoo (Cacomantis passerinus) does not approached the thresholds for being Vulnerable, either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. Loss of habitats 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 species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the grey-bellied cuckoo (Cacomantis passerinus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Cacomantis passerinus
Species:C. passerinus
Binomial name:Cacomantis passerinus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Sasidharanmanekkara | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
2.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Vivekpuliyeri | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
3.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Karunakar Rayker | License: CC BY 2.0 as on 4/3/17
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