do you get close to a Cockoo?
The Cuckoo is
found throughout most of Europe and Asia during the northern summer.
It inhabits a wide variety of habitats across a wide range of climatic
It arrives in Europe during April and May and starts to return to
its wintering quarters
in Africa, mainly south of the Equator, in August.
is blue-grey above and on its head and chest. The belly is white with
fine, black bars. Feet and orbital ring are yellow.
The iris is light brown to orange.
The Cuckoo is the classic brood parasite and some of its favoured
host species are Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis,
Dunnock Prunella modularis and Reed Warbler Acrocephalus
Granada Wild, c/o ITN Source, London
cuckoo chick in nest being fed by reed warbler
- Granada Wild, c/o ITN Source, London
II - BBC Natural History Unit
Cuculus is a genus of cuckoos which has representatives in most of
the Old World, although the greatest diversity
is in tropical southern and southeastern Asia.
Subfamily Cuculinae Brood-parasitic cuckoos
Genus Eocuculus (fossil: Late Eocene of Teller County,
Genus Clamator (4 species)
Genus Pachycoccyx Thick-billed Cuckoo
typical cuckoos (some 15 species)
Genus Cercococcyx long-tailed cuckoos (3 species)
Genus Cacomantis (8 species)
Genus Chrysococcyx bronze cuckoos (12 species)
Genus Rhamphomantis Long-billed Cuckoo
Genus Surniculus drongo-cuckoos (2 species)
Genus Caliechthrus White-crowned Koel
Genus Microdynamis Dwarf Koel
Genus Eudynamys typical koels (25 species,
Genus Scythrops Channel-billed Cuckoo
The cuckoos are a family, Cuculidae, of near passerine
birds. The order Cuculiformes, in addition to the cuckoos,
also includes the turacos (family Musophagidae, sometimes
treated as a separate order, Musophagiformes).
Some zoologists and taxonomists have also included the unique
Hoatzin in the Cuculiformes, but its taxonomy remains
in dispute. The cuckoo family, in addition to those species
named as such, also includes the roadrunners, koels, malkohas,
couas, coucals and anis. The coucals and anis are sometimes
separated as distinct families, the Centropodidae and
The cuckoos are generally medium sized slender birds. The majority
are arboreal, with a sizeable minority that are terrestrial.
The family has a cosmopolitan distribution, with the majority
of species being tropical. The temperate species are migratory.
The cuckoos feed on insects, insect larvae and a variety of
other animals, as well as fruit. Many species are brood parasites,
laying their eggs in the nests of other species, but the majority
of species raise their own young.
These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails
and strong legs. Most occur in open forests, but some prefer
more open country. Several species are migratory.
These are vocal species, with persistent and loud calls. They
feed on large insects, with hairy caterpillars, which are distasteful
to many birds, being a speciality. One or two species will also
take some fruit.
Cuculus cuckoos are brood parasites, that is, they lay a single
egg in the nests of various passerine hosts. The best-known
example is the European Common Cuckoo. The female cuckoo in
each case replaces one of the hosts eggs with one of her
own. The cuckoo egg hatches earlier than the hosts, and
the chick grows faster; in most cases the cuckoo chick evicts
the eggs or young of the host species.
Cuculus species lay coloured eggs to match those of their passerine
hosts. Female cuckoos specialise in a particular host species
(generally the species that raised them) and lay eggs that closely
resemble the eggs of that host.
A species may consist of several gentes, with each gens specialising
in a particular host. There is some evidence that the gentes
are genetically different from one another though other authorities
state that as female cuckoos mate with males of any gens, genes
flow between gentes.