Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)


[order] CUCULIFORMES | [family] Cuculidae | [latin] Cuculus canorus | [UK] Cuckoo | [FR] Coucou gris | [DE] Kuckuck | [ES] Cuco Europeo | [NL] Koekoek


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

The Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) is a medium-sized bird that averages between 32 to 37 centimeters in length. The males have solid gray coloring over their heads, neck and wings. Their bellies are white with gray to black stripes, dark gray tail feathers and black eyes. Bills are pointed and black of color. The female Cuckoo resembles the males, but with morphed brown coloring.

Listen to the sound of Cuckoo


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 54 cm wingspan max.: 60 cm
size min.: 32 cm size max.: 36 cm
incubation min.: 11 days incubation max.: 12 days
fledging min.: 17 days fledging max.: 12 days
broods: 15   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 25  


Eurasia : widespread


Forests and woodlands, both coniferous and deciduous, second growth, open wooded areas, wooded steppe, scrub, heathland, also meadows, reedbeds. Lowlands and moorlands and hill country to 2 km.
Food and Feeding


May-Jun in NW Europe, Apr-May in Algeria, Apr-Jul in India and Myanmar. Brood-parasitic, hosts include many insectivorous songbird species, like: flycatchers, chats, warblers, pipits, wagtails and buntigs.
Often mobbed by real or potential hosts near their nests. Eggs polymorphic in color and pattern, closely match those of host in color and pattern.
Nestling period 17-18 days, evicts host’s eggs and chicks.

Feeding habits

Diet based on insects, mainly caterpillars, also dragonflies, mayflies, damselflies, crickets, and cicadas. Sometimes, spiders, snails, rarely fruit.
Preys on eggs and nestling of small birds.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Cuckoo status Least Concern


Migratory in N of range, arriving in SW Britain mainly Apr – May, when occasionally recorded in small parties, and even in one flock of 50+ birds; also seasonal in hill country from Assam and Chin Hills to Shan States, where present Mar – Aug. Resident in tropical lowland areas of S Asia. Winter resident in sub-Saharan Africa and in Sri Lanka. W Palearctic populations migrate to Africa, where a Dutch-ringed juvenile found in Togo in Oct and a British-ringed juvenile found in Cameroon in Jan; migrants appear in N Senegal as early as late Jul through Oct; in W Africa nearly all records are in autumn ( Sept – Dec), birds apparently continuing on to C & S Africa. Race bangsi occurs on passage in W Africa, and winters S of equator from W Africa to L Tanganyika. Asian populations of nominate canorus and bakeri winter in India, SE Asia and Philippines, also in Africa, but the extent of migration of Asian birds to Africa is unknown; some subtelephonus migrate through Middle East and occur in winter from Uganda and E Zaire to Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Natal. Mainly a passage migrant in Middle East, though some breed in region. Migrants also appear on islands in W Indian Ocean ( Seychelles, Aldabra). Nominate canorus accidental in Iceland, Faeroes, Azores, Madeira, Canary Is and Cape Verde Is, rarely also Alaska and eastern N America; one record of canorus in Indonesia, off W Java in winter. Autumn migration starts in August and continues until October. The main passage through Egypt is in September and the first half of October, with a peak in the third week of September (Goodman & Meininger 1989). Southward movement through Africa lasts from September to December and is linked to the occurrence of rainfall and the growth of cover.

Distribution map

Cuckoo distribution range map

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