Cuckoo species, photos and description of the bird, what looks like, the voice and singing of the cuckoo, interesting facts | Cuckooshaped

Cuckoos and a cuckoolike family are mediumsized birds that are known to parental skills, or rather their lack. Some species of these birds lay eggs-parasites. The female finds a nest with eggs, waits for the hen to fly away and lays an egg! The unsuspecting bird returns, against the cuckoo egg, then takes care of the chick when it hatches. In gratitude for maternal care, the cuckoo throws the offspring of her stepmother out of the nest.


There are many different types of cuckoos, and their appearance varies greatly depending on the species. Some birds are dull gray and unremarkable, others are bright green with orange spots. They also vary in size, ranging from 15 to 65 cm in length. Cuckoos weigh from 80 to 700 grams. Some species are slender and graceful, while others are heavy with large paws.

Cuckoo species

real cuckoos

There are several subfamilies in the cuckoo family. The most numerous are real cuckoos. It includes birds with a long tail and short plumage in gray, brown, white or black. Cuckoos of this subfamily can be quite small (15 cm long) or quite large (up to 70 cm). The color of birds of both sexes is almost indistinguishable.

crested cuckoo

The crested cuckoo weighs on average 150 g and has a length of 35-39 cm. The plumage of the upper body is predominantly black and dark gray. Throat, chest and belly, on the contrary, are light. The head of an adult bird is decorated with a gray-silver crest. Inhabits light forests and open spaces with a few bushes and trees. Inhabits the south of Europe, Asia Minor, Africa.

thick-billed cuckoo

The bird is the only species of the genus of thick-billed cuckoos. Its distinctive feature is a thick beak, which has similar features with the beaks of birds of prey. It lives in eastern, southern, southwestern countries of Africa. Like the crested cuckoo, it is a migratory bird. Throws its eggs into the nests of feathered representatives of the genus of forest shrikes.

common cuckoo

The common cuckoo is the most numerous and widespread species of the family. It has a discreet color of feathers: gray and reddish colors predominate. Belly white with black transverse stripes. Cuckoos reach up to 32-34 cm in length. Their mass is from 80 to 190 g. They live in all climatic zones of Eurasia. They winter in Africa and the Asian tropics.

long-tailed cuckoos

Long-tailed cuckoos are one of the genera of the cuckoo family. This genus includes three species: mountain, dark and olive cuckoo. Its representatives are common in the forests of the savannah of Central and East Africa. Like many cuckoos, it belongs to nest parasites. Most often lays its eggs to birds of the flycatcher and hornbill families.

squirrel-tailed cuckoo

bristly cuckoos

This genus of the cuckoo family unites 10 species of birds. Almost all of them have gray or brown plumage. They have stepped tails with oblique stripes. Transverse stripes on the tail have only one species bristly cuckoo Sonnerata. The Latin name of the genus Cacomantis translates as “harbinger of grief”. It is believed that these birds predict bad weather and various misfortunes.

bronze cuckoos

Another representative of real cuckoos are bronze cuckoos. The genus includes 15 species. Birds of the genus inhabit the territories of Africa, Australia, Indonesia. They are also nest parasites that lay their eggs in other people’s nests. However, some species, such as the Claes bronze cuckoo, additionally feed their offspring.

purple bronze cuckoo

long-billed cuckoo

This bird belongs to the genus of bronze cuckoos. Prefers open forests with tall trees. Inhabits the island of New Guinea and nearby islands. It has a brown-gray plumage darker on the back and light beige on the belly. And also a rather long dark beak. There are two subspecies: one inhabits the island of Waigeo, the other of the islands of Aru and New Guinea.

Drone cuckoos

They are one of the genera of the cuckoo family, which includes 4 species. They live in the Philippines, Indonesia in the tropical forests of Asia. They parasitize in the nests of birds of the thymelid family. The plumage is black and dark gray with a bluish tinge. The tail has feathers with light stripes. Beak black and short. The bird got its name because of its resemblance to representatives of the Drong family.

white-headed koel

The white-headed koel is a notable member of the bristly cuckoo genus. Although it was previously assigned to a separate genus Caliechthrus. Its main habitats are the islands of New Guinea and Salavati. Birds have long tails and dark feathers. Only on the head there is a wide longitudinal stripe of white color, which gave the species its name.

black-headed cuckoo

The black-headed cuckoo is the only species of the same genus. Inhabits the humid tropical and subtropical forests of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Also, like other members of the family, they belong to nest parasites. What kind of birds are their caregivers is unknown. There are two subspecies of black-headed cuckoos. One of them inhabits the north of New Guinea, and the other the southern part.


Another genus of the cuckoo family. It includes only three species: koel, pacific and black-billed koel. Distributed in Australia, Asia and the Pacific Islands. The basis of their diet is plant foods. The nature of the food corresponds to the structural features of the beak it has jagged edges. The birds are quite large and have developed sexual dimorphism.

giant cuckoos

The giant cuckoo is the largest bird of the family. Its weight reaches 930 g, and the total body length can be from 58 to 66 cm. Her beak is massive and curved. The gray color of the plumage prevails from light gray on the ventral part to black on the wings. Lives in Australia, New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago and other nearby islands. Eggs are thrown into the nests of birds of prey, corvids and passerines.

Variegated cuckoos

The subfamily of the variegated cuckoos is distributed mainly in South and Central America. Some species are found in Asia and Africa. They have an elongated thin body, a long tail and tenacious paws. Pied-billed cuckoos can build their own nests or occupy someone else’s. They don’t always throw their eggs into the nests of other birds. This happens if the female has a lot of eggs.

Variegated bush cuckoo


Representatives of this subfamily inhabit North, Central and South America. Larval-eating females have the peculiarity of laying eggs in one common nest and incubating it in turn. Moreover, males also participate in incubation. But there are individuals who throw their eggs into other people’s nests. But always these are nests of representatives of the cuckoo family.


Guira is a type of larva-eating cuckoo. The body length of the bird is 35-40cm. The plumage is grey-brown and the beak is yellow-orange. They have a long tail and a red crest on their heads. Guira live in the tropical zone of South America. Live in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia. Also found in the Netherlands Antilles.

big ani

This species is the largest in the genus of larvae. It reaches 48 cm in length, and weighs up to 170 g. The big ani has a shiny black plumage with a blue sheen, a large black beak and a long tail. Ani lives in the mangrove swamps of South America. It also prefers the edges of rainforests and places near water bodies. Is a predator. Feeds on large insects, lizards, frogs.


The habitat of birds of this species is very large: the south of Florida, the islands of the Caribbean, Central America, northern Argentina. Ani’s body length is 35cm. Their plumage is completely black, their head is large. Blunt beak set high. The tail is long, hanging freely. They spend most of their time on the ground as they don’t fly well. Feeds on insects and small vertebrates.

furrow-billed ani

This species of cuckoo-larvae lives in North and South America. The length of his body is approximately 30 cm, and the weight varies between 70-80 g. These birds have black plumage, a very long tail and a large beak with horizontal grooves. Prefers open spaces for living (for example, gardens and pastures). They eat insects and fruits of certain plants.

running cuckoos

Birds of this subfamily lead a predominantly terrestrial lifestyle. They inhabit the territories of South and North America. Most of the running cuckoos make their own nests. But there are two genera that are nest parasites (peacock cuckoos and plantain cuckoos). They also, unlike other genera, live on trees.

Peacock cuckoo

The peacock cuckoo lives in the tropical and subtropical forests of South America. Inhabits Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela and other South American countries. This cuckoo has dark brown plumage on its back and wings. It is lighter on the chest and belly. The feathers of the head and crest have a rusty tint. The tail is long and stepped. The bird leads a hidden and solitary lifestyle.

Red-crested peacock cuckoo

Inhabits the lowland tropical forests of Central and South America. Settle in low-lying evergreen, riverine and deciduous tropical forests. The feathers of the upper body of the bird are colored smoky brown. The lower part is much lighter, and there are black stripes on the chest. It is a fully nested parasite. The offspring are bred and taken care of by the owners of the nests.

California ground cuckoo

It has other names: running cuckoo and plantain cuckoo. Its natural habitats are located in the desert and semi-desert areas of northern Mexico and southern United States. Have a body length from 5 to 6 cm, and mass up to 538 g. Heads with a crest, the back and tail have a dark brown color with white specks. Neck, chest and stomach are light. The legs of the cuckoo are strong, designed for running through the desert area.

Drozdovic cuckoo

Drozdovic cuckoo is another type of running cuckoos inhabiting North and Central America. The length of their body is from 25 to 28 cm. The plumage of the upper part is gray-brown or olive-brown. Featers on the chest are red-brown. The beak is half black. The second half is yellow. They also have long and fast legs. They build nests on the ground and themselves hatch eggs.

Redhaired earthen cuckoo

This representative of the subfamily of running cuckoos lives in the wet forests of Central and South America, the islands of the Caribbean basin and the southern part of Florida. The redhaired cuckoo is quite secretive and invisible, although it has large sizes for cuckoo. The plumage of the upper body, wings and tail is dark with blue and green tint. The crest is brown-green. The beak is curved.

Striped earthen cuckoo

The cuckoo lives in the countries of South America (Colombia and Ecuador). It is a nesting parasite. Her chicks hatch from eggs before the offspring of the owners of the nest. They throw all the chicks out of it, after killing a special hook on the beak. Therefore, the cuckoo throws only one egg into each nest. According to the Red Book of MSOP, the species is an enduring.

Fourwinged cuckoo

Fourwinged cuckoo is the only view in its family. Lives in the territory limited by Mexico, the island of Trinidad in the north and Bolivia, Argentina in the south. Prefers an open area with a rare forest and outskirts of mangroves. The body length of the poultry is approximately 27 cm, the mass is 40 g. The color of the body is gray-brown. On the head of a brown-black crest.

Short cuckoos

The genus includes 29 types. Spurred cuckoos were given this name because of the presence of a long claw on the thumbs of the paws. Birds of this kind of Kukushkovo family are not nesting parasites. They build open or closed nests themselves in thick plant thickets. By the type of nutrition are predators. And they can even hunt if they do not feel hunger.

Healing cuckoo cuckoo

The healing cuckoo cuckoo lives exclusively on the territory of Indonesia (islands of Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan and others). It has a brown-red color of feathers. The beak is quite long, slightly curved at the end. The long tail is commensurate with the length of the whole body. According to the classification of the International Red Book, the species does not cause great fears of its disappearance.

Large Shortz cuckoo

Birds of this species are inhabited by the lower tiers of moist subtropical forests of Southeast Asia (Islands Aru and New Guinea). Males have a large cuckoo cuckoo. Females have a dark brown color. Due to their predominantly terrestrial lifestyle, they have strong legs. The species is monogamous. Birds nest in pairs. Both parents participate in feeding.

Pheasant cuckoo

The cuckoo pheasant lives in western Indonesia (Timor, New Guinea, Moluccas), in the north and east of Australia. Prefers to settle in grassy thickets, swamps and dense undergrowth. The body length of the bird is from 50 to 70 cm. Gray-brown feathers. The tail is darker than the rest of the body. Leads a terrestrial life, although it can fly. The male helps the female in incubating the eggs.

Cuckoo habitat

Different species of cuckoos occupy a surprisingly wide range of habitats. Most of them live in forested areas and woodlands, and the greatest diversity is found in evergreen rainforests. Some species love mangroves. These birds have also chosen wetlands, swamps and even deserts.

The geography of cuckoos

Cuckoos live on every continent except Antarctica. It’s actually easier to notice where these birds are absent than where they live. On the southwestern side of the Andes Mountains in South America, in the north of North America, in the Sahara desert in Africa and in the driest regions of the Middle East, cuckoos are not found.

What do cuckoos eat

Most cuckoo species are insectivorous. This means that they feed mainly on insects. Their favorite food is caterpillars, and cuckoos eat species that other birds usually avoid. Some cuckoos also feed on lizards, snakes, small rodents, other birds, and fruits.

Features of caring for a cuckoo

In zoos, the care of these birds depends on the species. Cuckoos that live in trees create opportunities for flight, install perches and tall plants in places of detention. For ground cuckoos, shrubs are planted, shelters are created and substrates are poured similar to those found in their natural habitat. The diets of birds in captivity mimic those in nature as closely as possible.

Cuckoo behavior

The vast majority of species are solitary birds, they form groups or pairs only in rare cases. Most cuckoos are diurnal, which means they are active during the day, but some species hunt at night. These birds avoid human contact and hide in dense vegetation.

How cuckoos raise their chicks

Breeding habits vary by species. Some cuckoos do not incubate their eggs for long. Others leave their cubs before they can even fly. Others care for young in the same way as other birds.

The best-known parenting strategy is nest parasitism, which was discussed above. Another interesting breeding habit: several females lay their eggs in a communal nest. All members of the group build a nest, incubate eggs and raise chicks.

How does a person interact with a cuckoo

Some cuckoo species are threatened by meat and feather hunters. All cuckoos are endangered. Main habitats forests are being displaced by urban development. Climate change has led to a decrease in the number of species, and this effect depends on how specialized the diet of the species is.

How long do cuckoos live

The average cuckoo lives up to 5 years. Centenarians live 2-3 times longer, mostly in captivity.

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