Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius)

Great Spotted Cuckoo

[order] CUCULIFORMES | [family] Cuculidae | [latin] Clamator glandarius | [UK] Great Spotted Cuckoo | [FR] Grand Coucou-geai | [DE] Haherkuckuck | [ES] Crialo | [NL] Kuifkoekoek


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Parasitical bird, lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, in Israel, in the nests of Hooded Crow. 35-38 cm, 124 g, wingspan 58 cm.
A long-tailled cuckoo with prominent crest, dusky brown above with white feather tips, flight-feathers grey-brown, tail tipped white, crown grey with slight crest, face blackish throat buff, otherwise white below.
Eye-ring grey to reddish, iris brown, bill black, and feet black.

Listen to the sound of Great Spotted Cuckoo

[audio: Spotted Cuckoo.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 58 cm wingspan max.: 60 cm
size min.: 35 cm size max.: 39 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 23 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Africa, Eurasia : South Europe through AF


Semi-arid open woodland, especially acacia thorn-scrub, also other scrub, rocky hillsides in dry savannas.
In Europe favors savanna-like heathland, often with cork oak or stone pine, also olive groves. Mainly between 500 m and 200 m.


Apr-May in Mediterranean. Mar in Egypt, Apr-May in Senegal and Sierra Leone, Apr-Jul in Mali, Ghana and Nigeria, Dec-Mar in Namibia, Apr in Botswqna.
Brood-parasitic, hosts crows and magpies in Mediterranean, particularly Black-billed Magpie, Azure-winged Magpie and Hooded Crow.
Female can lay 12-25 eggs in a season. Eggs pale greenish with brown and grey marks. Often several cuckoo eggs in one crow nest. Female may damage host’s eggs by dropping its own egg on top.
Magpies sometimes remove cuckoo eggs from nest, crows do not, incubation 12-15 days, shorter than host. Chick naked, yellow or pink at hatching, gape pink, palate spicules not contrasting in color. When more than one cuckoo chick in magpie nest, younger one may starve.

Feeding habits

Insects, mainly large hairy caterpillars, also termites, grasshoppers, moths and small lizards. Dresses caterpillars by removing hairs befor eating. Often feeds on ground.


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). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very 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.
Clamator glandarius is a widespread summer visitor to southern Europe, which
accounts for less than a quarter of its global breeding range. Its European breeding
population is relatively small (<77,000 pairs), but increased between 1970-1990. Although the trend of the stronghold population in Spain during 1990-2000 was unknown, the species was stable or increased across the rest of its European range
Great Spotted Cuckoo status Least Concern


Adults leave breeding area in Spain in mid Jun, juveniles leave between early Jul and early Aug independently of adults. European birds mostly migrate to Africa, wintering N of 10 degrees N, but possibly many move S of Sahara; small numbers winter in S Spain. Movements throughout range inadequately known, since breeding and non-breeding birds are indistinguishable. Birds in W Africa appear to be local migrants, though some are resident in Senegal; occurrence in Gambia irregular, involving mostly juveniles from farther N, but occasionally breeds; apparently random occurrence throughout much of Sierra Leone. Species is present locally in E Africa all year, and local migrants occur here as well, notably in passage across Serengeti plains Jan – March. Local movements occur in Cape region of S Africa. In Israel/ Palestine, local breeders arrive mid December to end of March, most having left by Jun, with passage of populations from farther N noted late Jan to end of May and Jul – Nov; occasional migrants recorded Arabia. Rare winter records from Middle East. Vagrant to Britain, N Europe and Russia.

Distribution map

Great Spotted Cuckoo distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *