Violet cuckoo

   ›      ›   Violet cuckoo - Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus

The violet cuckoo (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus) belongs to the family of cuckoos, roadrunners, koels and malkohas, Cuculidae.

The violet cuckoo species are distributed in India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines. These cuckoo species are brood parasites. There are two recognized subspecies of these cuckoos.

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

Violet cuckoo - Overview

  • Scientific name: Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
  • Species author: (Horsfield, 1821)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Cuculus xanthorhynchus Horsfield, 1821
  • Family: Cuculidae › Cuculiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Violet cuckoo, Chinese: 紫金鹃, French: Coucou violet, German: Amethystkuckuck, Spanish: Cuclillo violeta, Russian: Фиолетовая бронзовая кукушка, Japanese: スミレテリカッコウ, Malay: Burung Sewah Puteri
  • Other names: Violet cuckoo
  • Distribution: India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects, caterpillars, flying insects, fruits
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The violet cuckoo (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus)is closely related to Asian emerald cuckoo (Chrysococcyx maculatus).

The two recognized subspecies of Chrysococcyx maculatus cuckoo are: Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus xanthorhynchus (Horsfield, 1821) and Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus amethystinus (Vigors, 1831).

Appearance, physical description and identification

The violet cuckoo (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus) is a small cuckoo, measuring 15 cm in length and weighing 20 grams.

The violet cuckoo show sexual dimorphism and the males have glossy plumage. The upperparts and head have glossy violet. The chin and the upper breast are bright violet. The males cuckoos of the subspecies C. x. amethystinus have a glossy blue-violet throat patch.

The lower breast and belly region are white with black and violet barring. The tail is blackish with white tip. The outer feathers of the tail are barred. The mature males have red eyering.

The female cuckoos have bronze upperparts and dark brown crown. The females have white markings around the head and eyes. The breast and belly region is white with bronze-green bars and pale rufous markings. The outer rectrices on the tail are barred white and black.

The bill is yellow with a orange base and blackish tip. The legs are black. The irises are blackish brown. The cuckoo call is a repeated “che-wick” and “seer-se-seer" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Violet cuckoo - Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
Birds of India - Violet cuckoo - Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus Picture by Kesavamurthy N

photo of Violet cuckoo - Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
Indian birds - Violet cuckoo - Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus photo by Nanda ramesh

Birds of India - Image of Violet cuckoo - Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
Birds of India - Image of Violet cuckoo - Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus by Francesco Veronesi

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The violet cuckoo species are distributed in Bhutan, Bangladesh, northeast India, China (Yunnan) and much of southeast Asia. In India, these species are distributed in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The cuckoo nominate subspecies C. x. xanthorhynchus is distributed in India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines. The subspecies C. x. amethystinus is distributed in Philippines.

Ecosystem and habitat

These violet cuckoo species have moderate forest dependence. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 1500 meters. The artificial ecosystems of these species include rural gardens, orchards, plantations and urban parks.

The natural ecosystems of these violet cuckoo species include tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, secondary evergreen forests, tropical and subtropical mangrove vegetations and deciduous forests.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these violet cuckoo species is mostly insects. Caterpillars, beetles, flies, ants, termites, grasshoppers, spiders, several types of flying insects and fruits are their primary food.

These cuckoo species glean insects from branches by creeping up and down the branches. They also perch motionless and hawk insects from the air. They rub the prey back and forth on hard perch to crush the exoskeleton.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The violet cuckoo species are brood-parasites. They lay eggs in the nest of other birds and rely on the host to raise their young. A single egg is laid in the host nest. The cuckoo chick grows faster and may evict the unhatched host eggs and also chicks from the nest.

The breeding season of these cuckoo species coincides with the breeding season of the host species. The sunbirds (Aethopyga spp.) and spiderhunters (Arachnothera spp.) are their host birds in India.

Migration and movement patterns

The violet cuckoo species are partially migratory birds.

The breeding cuckoo populations in northeast India (Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Andaman and Nicobar Islands), Bhutan and Bangladesh are migratory and they move southwards for wintering.

Wintering cuckoo populations are found in the region of Bay of Bangkok in Thailand, spread over the provinces, Samut Songkhram, Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Bangkok, Chachoengsao and Chonburi.

These cuckoo populations in Myanmar, China (southwest Yunnan), Thailand (except Bay of Bangkok), Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines are resident breeders.

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 violet cuckoo (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these species is considered to be stable. Throughout its range it is reported to be uncommon. The generation length is 4.2 years. Their distribution size is about 10,600,000

The violet cuckoo (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus) 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 deforestation and habitat destruction are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these cuckoo 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 violet cuckoo (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
Species:C. xanthorhynchus
Binomial name:Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Kesavamurthy N | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
2.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Nanda ramesh | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
3.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Francesco Veronesi | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 5/9/17
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