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Key information
Contents:
  1. Cuckoo song
  2. The Cuckoo (song) - Wikipedia
  3. Living with Birds 21 Facts on Cuckoo Tweetapedia
  4. The Cuckoo (song)

Key information The cuckoo is a dove-sized bird with blue grey upper parts, head and chest with dark barred white under parts. What they eat: Insects, especially hairy caterpillars. Measurements: Length: cm Wingspan: cm Weight: g. UK breeding is the number of pairs breeding annually. UK wintering is the number of individuals present from October to March.

Feather colour: Black Brown Grey White. Leg colour: Yellow. Similar birds:. Collared dove. Where and when to see them. It shows general distribution rather than detailed, localised populations. RSPB reserves. Video Footage of a cuckoo perched on a post. Read video transcript Footage of a cuckoo perched on a post. Play video.


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Share this Facebook Facebook Created with Sketch. Twitter Pinterest. The coucals are another terrestrial Old World subfamily of long tailed long legged and short winged cuckoos. They are large heavyset birds with the largest, the greater black coucal , being around the same size as the channel-billed cuckoo. The subfamily Coccyzinae are arboreal and long tailed as well, with a number of large insular forms. The final subfamily are the atypical anis , which include the small clumsy anis and the larger guira cuckoo.

The anis have massive bills and smooth glossy feathers. The feathers of the cuckoos are generally soft, and often become waterlogged in heavy rain.


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  6. Cuckoos often sun themselves after rain, and the anis hold their wings open in the manner of a vulture or cormorant while drying. There is considerable variation in the plumage exhibited by the family. Some species, particularly the brood parasites have cryptic plumage, whereas others have bright and elaborate plumage. This is particularly true of the Chrysococcyx or glossy cuckoos, which have iridescent plumage. Some cuckoos have a resemblance to hawks in the genus Accipiter with barring on the underside; this apparently alarms potential hosts, allowing the female to access a host nest.

    For example, the Asian koels breeding in India have black offspring to resemble their crow hosts, whereas in the Australian koels the chicks are brown like the honeyeater hosts.

    Cuckoo song

    Sexual dimorphism in plumage is uncommon in the cuckoos, being most common in the parasitic Old World species. The cuckoos have a cosmopolitan distribution , ranging across all the world's continents except Antarctica. They are absent from the south west of South America , the far north and north west of North America , and the driest areas of the Middle East and North Africa although they occur there as passage migrants.

    They generally only occur as vagrants in the oceanic islands of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans , but one species breeds on a number of Pacific islands and another is a winter migrant across much of the Pacific. Cuculinae is the most widespread subfamily of cuckoos, and is distributed across Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and Oceania.

    Amongst the Phaenicophaeinae cuckoos the malkohas and Asian ground-cuckoos are restricted to southern Asia, the couas are endemic to Madagascar and the yellowbill widespread across Africa. The coucals are distributed from Africa through tropical Asia down into Australia and the Solomon Islands. The remaining three subfamilies have a New World distribution, all three are found in both North and South America. The Coccyzinae reaches the furthest north of the three subfamilies, breeding in Canada , whereas the anis reach as far north as Florida and the typical ground-cuckoos the south west United States.

    For the cuckoos suitable habitat provides a source of food principally insects and especially caterpillars and a place to breed, for brood parasites the need is for suitable habitat for the host species. Cuckoos occur in a wide variety of habitats. The majority of species occur in forests and woodland, principally in the evergreen rainforests of the tropics. Some species inhabit or are even restricted to mangrove forests; these include the little bronze cuckoo of Australia , some malkohas, coucals, and the aptly-named mangrove cuckoo of the New World.

    The Cuckoo (song) - Wikipedia

    In addition to forests some species of cuckoo occupy more open environments; this can include even arid areas like deserts in the case of the greater roadrunner or the pallid cuckoo. Temperate migratory species like the common cuckoo inhabit a wide range of habitats in order to make maximum use of the potential brood hosts, from reed beds where they parasitise reed warblers to treeless moors where they parasitise meadow pipits.

    Most species of cuckoo are sedentary, but some undertake regular seasonal migrations and others undertake partial migrations over part of their range. Species breeding at higher latitudes migrate to warmer climates during the winter due to food availability. The long-tailed koel , which breeds in New Zealand, flies to its wintering grounds in Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia, a feat described as "perhaps the most remarkable overwater migration of any land bird. Other long migration flights include the lesser cuckoo , which flies from Africa to India , and the common cuckoo of Europe, which flies non-stop over the Mediterranean Sea and Sahara Desert on the voyage between Europe and central Africa.

    Within Africa, ten species make regular intra-continental migrations that are described as polarised; that is, they spend the non-breeding season in the tropical centre of the continent and move north and south to breed in the more arid and open savannah and deserts. In some species the migration is diurnal , as in the channel-billed cuckoo , or nocturnal , as in the yellow-billed cuckoo. The cuckoos are for the most part solitary birds that seldom occur in pairs or groups. The biggest exception to this are the anis of the Americas , which have evolved cooperative breeding and other social behaviours.

    For the most part the cuckoos are also diurnal as opposed to nocturnal , but many species call at night see below.

    The Cuckoo Clock of Doom

    The cuckoos are also generally a shy and retiring family, more often heard than seen. The exception to this are again the anis, which are often extremely confiding towards humans and other species. Most cuckoos are insectivorous , and in particular are specialised in eating larger insects and caterpillars , including noxious hairy types avoided by other birds. They are unusual among birds in processing their prey prior to swallowing, rubbing it back and forth on hard objects such as branches and then crushing it with special bony plates in the back of the mouth. The lizard cuckoos of the Caribbean have, in the relative absence of birds of prey , specialised in taking lizards.

    Ground species may employ different techniques to catch prey.

    A study of two coua species in Madagascar found that the Coquerel's coua obtained prey by walking and gleaning on the forest floor, whereas the red-capped coua ran and pounced on prey. Both species also showed seasonal flexibility in prey and foraging techniques. Several koels , couas , and the channel-billed cuckoo feed mainly on fruit, [17] but they are not exclusively frugivores. The parasitic koels and channel-billed cuckoo in particular consume mainly fruit when raised by frugivore hosts such as the Australasian figbird and pied currawong. Other species occasionally take fruit as well.

    Couas consume fruit in the dry season when prey is harder to find. The cuckoos are an extremely diverse group of birds with regards to breeding systems.

    G.F. HÄNDEL: «The Cuckoo and the Naghtingale» Organ Concerto in F major HWV 295, I Barocchisti

    The anis and the guira cuckoo lay their eggs in communal nests, which is built by all members of the group. Incubation, brooding and territorial defence duties are shared by all members of the group. Within these species the anis breed as groups of monogamous pairs, but the guira cuckoos are not monogamous within the group, exhibiting a polygynandrous breeding system. This group nesting behaviour is not completely cooperative; females compete and may remove others' eggs when laying hers.

    Eggs are usually only ejected early in the breeding season in the anis, but can be ejected at any time by guria cuckoos. The majority of cuckoo species, including malkohas, couas, coucals, and roadrunners and most other American cuckoos, build their own nests, although a large minority engage in brood parasitism see below. Most of these species nest in trees or bushes, but the coucals lay their eggs in nests on the ground or in low shrubs. Though on some occasions non-parasitic cuckoos parasitize other species, the parent still helps feed the chick.

    The nests of cuckoos vary in the same way as the breeding systems. The nests of malkohas and Asian ground cuckoos are shallow platforms of twigs, but those of coucals are globular or domed nests of grasses. The New World cuckoos build saucers or bowls in the case of the New World ground cuckoos.

    Non-parasitic cuckoos, like most other non-passerines, lay white eggs, but many of the parasitic species lay coloured eggs to match those of their passerine hosts. The young of all species are altricial. Non-parasitic cuckoos leave the nest before they can fly, and some New World species have the shortest incubation periods among birds. About 56 of the Old World species and 3 of the New World species pheasant , pavonine , and striped are brood parasites , laying their eggs in the nests of other birds. The best-known example is the European common cuckoo.

    In addition to the above noted species, yet others sometimes engage in non-obligate brood parasitism, laying their eggs in the nests of members of their own species in addition to raising their own young. The shells of the eggs of brood-parasites are usually thick. The chick has no time to learn this behavior, so it must be an instinct passed on genetically.

    Living with Birds 21 Facts on Cuckoo Tweetapedia

    The chick encourages the host to keep pace with its high growth rate with its rapid begging call [23] and the chick's open mouth which serves as a sign stimulus. Since obligate brood parasites need to successfully trick their host in order for them to reproduce, they have evolved adaptations at several stages of breeding. However, there are high costs of parasitism on the host, leading to strong selections on host to recognize and reject parasitic eggs.

    The adaptations and counter-adaptations between host and parasites have led to a coevolution arms race. This means that if one of the species involved were to stop adapting, it would lose the race to the other species likely resulting in decreased fitness of the losing species. Cuckoos have various strategies for getting their egg into a host nest.

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    The Cuckoo (song)

    In May, look for butterflies such as the orange-tip. You might even see bullfinch, lesser whitethroat, cuckoos or weasels. Listen for the laughing call of the green woodpecker and a host of other birds. In early summer, orchids grow near path edges and under trees.