Green-billed malkoha

   ›      ›   Green-billed malkoha - Phaenicophaeus tristis

The green-billed malkoha (Phaenicophaeus tristis) belongs to the family of cuckoos, roadrunners and malkohas, Cuculidae.

The green-billed malkohas are distributed in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, southeast Asia and China. These malkoha species have characteristic pale greenish bill and long graduated tail. These malkoha are polytypic species.

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

Green-billed malkoha - Overview

  • Scientific name: Phaenicophaeus tristis
  • Species author: (Lesson, 1830)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Melias tristis Lesson, 1830, Rhopodytes tristis
  • Family: Cuculidae › Cuculiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Green-billed malkoha, Chinese: 大绿嘴地鹃, French: Malcoha sombre German: Großer Grünschnabelkuckuck Spanish: Malcoha sombrío, Russian: Кокиль, Japanese: オニクロバンケンモドキ, Indonesian: Burung Kadalan Kera
  • Other names: Long-tailed Malkoha
  • Distribution: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, China
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects, caterpillars, lizards
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Appearance, physical description and identification

The green-billed malkoha (Phaenicophaeus tristis) is a medium-sized bird, measuring 50 to 60 cm in length and weighing 110 to 130 grams.

The overall plumage of these species is dark bluish gray. The head is paler gray. The upperparts have greenish gloss. There is a red bare, large, facial skin patch around the eyes.

The underparts of the green-billed malkoha are bluish gray. The tail is long, bluish black and graduated. The tips of the tail feathers are white.

The bill is prominent, curved and greenish. The irises are dark red and the eye ring is dark red. The feet are dark gray. The green-billed malkoha call is a frog-like clucking and croaking "ko..ko..ko" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Green-billed malkoha - Phaenicophaeus tristis
1.Birds of India - Image of Green-billed malkoha - Phaenicophaeus tristis by TonyCastro

Birds of India - Photo of Green-billed malkoha - Phaenicophaeus tristis
2.Indian birds - Picture of Green-billed malkoha - Phaenicophaeus tristis by Lip Kee

Indian birds - Image of Green-billed malkoha - Phaenicophaeus tristis
3.Birds of India - Photo of Green-billed malkoha - Phaenicophaeus tristis by Arundaga2

Origin, geographical range and distribution

These green-billed malkoha species are distributed in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and China.

In India, these green-billed malkohas are distributed in the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Sikkim, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram.

In China, these green-billed malkohas are distributed in the provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou, Hunan, Guangxi, Guangdong and Hainan.

Ecosystem and habitat

These green-billed malkoha species has moderate forest dependence. These species normally occur in altitudes from 0 to 1800 meters.

The artificial ecosystems and habitats of these species include timber plantations, rubber plantations, palm groves and trees around cultivated fields.

The natural ecosystems of these species include tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, primary forests, moist montane forests, secondary forests, moist shrublands, dry shrublands and dense thickets.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of green-billed malkoha consists mainly of insects. Large caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, locust, cicadas, dragonflies, moths, beetles, mantids, spiders and termites are their primary food.

These species glean the insects from the foliage, branches and trunks of plants. Sometime they are found hawking insects in the air. They also prey on lizards and small vertebrates.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the green-billed malkoha species is from April to August in India. The laying season in Nepal is in the month of May. The breeding season in peninsular Malaysia is from January to March.

These green-billed malkoha species are monogamous. Their nesting sites include thorny bushes and scrubs, up to two meters from the ground.

The nest is a bulky saucer made of twigs and rootlets. It is usually lined with leaves. The typical clutch contains two eggs.

Migration and movement patterns

These green-billed malkoha species are non-migratory resident birds.

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 green-billed malkoha (Phaenicophaeus tristis) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these species is reported to be stable.

Throughout its range this malkoha species is reported to be common to very common. The generation length is 4.2 years. Its distribution size is about 11,400,000

Habitat degradation and fragmentation, hunting and trapping for pet trade are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these malkoha species.

IUCN and CITES status

The green-billed malkoha (Phaenicophaeus tristis) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable under the range size criterion or under the population trend criterion, or under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the malkoha 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 green-billed malkoha (Phaenicophaeus tristis).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Phaenicophaeus tristis
Species:P.s tristis
Binomial name:Phaenicophaeus tristis
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The green-billed malkoha (Phaenicophaeus tristis) is closely related to chestnut-bellied malkoha (Phaenicophaeus sumatranus), black-bellied malkoha (Phaenicophaeus diardi) and blue-faced malkoha (Phaenicophaeus viridirostris). Sometimes all the four species are placed in the genus Rhopodytes.

The six tentatively recognized subspecies of green-billed malkoha are: P. t. tristis (Lesson, 1830), P. t. kangeangensis (Vorderman, 1893), P. t. elongatus S. Müller, 1836, P. t. longicaudatus Blyth, 1841, P. t. hainanus (E. J. O. Hartert, 1910 and P. t. saliens (Mayr, 1938).
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1.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: TonyCastro | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
2.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Lip Kee | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 9/8/17
3.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Arundaga2 | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
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