Order: Cuculiformes

Family: Cuculidae

Scientific name: Cuculus canorus, Linnaeus, 1758

IUCN Red list status-Least Concern

Did you know?

  1. Common Cuckoo is also known as Eurasian Cuckoo.
  2. Common Cuckoo lays its eggs in the nests of Warblers and Pipits.


The Common Cuckoo is 30-35 cm long and weighs 110-120 grams. The overall plumage is slate gray. The adult male has dark slaty gray upperparts, throat and upper breast. The upper breast has a sharp demarcation and the under parts are whitish with dark gray barring. The tail is blackish with brown tinge and has uneven black barring and pale gray spotting. The tail feathers have whitish tips and the upper wing-coverts have white edges Females birds have slaty grey neck, throat and breast. The under part is whitish and has thin, dark, greyish brown barring. The feet are short and yellow. The bill is short and gray. The irises, eye ring and the base of the bill are yellow.


The diet of Common Cuckoo is caterpillars, dragonflies, damselflies, moths, mayflies, crickets, grasshoppers. Cicadas, butterflies, centipedes and beetles are also their primary food. They are mostly arboreal but sometimes feed from ground also. The forage time is mainly day and it is done solitarily.


Common Cuckoo species have moderate forest dependence. They inhabit subtropical, temperate, evergreen and moist deciduous forest ecosystems. They are also found in secondary-growth forest, temperate and subtropical moist lowland and shrub lands, meadows, reed beds, farmland, plantations, rural gardens and urban parks. In India it is distributed throughout the peninsula.  They breed in Himalayas.

Reproductive Behaviour

The breeding season is from April to July. They are brood parasites, lays the eggs in the nest of other birds like warblers and Pipits and rely on the host to raise their young. The female cuckoo normally removes one or two host eggs before laying its egg in the host nest. The eggs usually appear similar to host eggs in colour and spotting and host birds incubate the eggs without knowing the deceit.


The call is a repeated loud “coo-coo” sound.

Related Species and Sub Species

  • Indian Cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus)
  • Himalayan Cuckoo (Cuculus saturates).
  • Oriental Cuckoo (Cuculus optatus).
  • African Cuckoo (Cuculus gularis).
  • Red Chested Cuckoo (Cuculus solitaries).
  • Cuculus canorus cacnorus of Europe and Asia.
  • Cuculus canorus bangsi of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
  • Cuculus canorus bakeri of North India, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.
  • Cuculus canorus subtelephonus of Central Asia, Turkestan and Southern Mongolia.

Migratory Behaviour

Non Migratory, but Rare Resident