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Cuckoo (Family: Cuculidae) - Wiki latin dict size=340   common dict size=512
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Subject Cuckoo (Family: Cuculidae) - Wiki

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Cuckoo (Family: Cuculidae) - Wiki

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Cuculiformes
Family: Cuculidae Vigors, 1825

[Photo] Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus-americanus), Cyprus Lake, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Canada, 2005. Photograph: Mdf (
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

The cuckoos are a family, Cuculidae, of near passerine birds. The order Cuculiformes, in addition to the cuckoos, also includes the turacos (family Musophagidae, sometimes treated as a separate order, Musophagiformes). Some zoologists have also included the unique Hoatzin in the Cuculiformes, but its taxonomy remains in dispute.

The cuckoo family, in addition to those species named as such, also includes the roadrunners, koels, malkohas, couas, coucals and anis. The coucals and anis are sometimes separated as distinct families, the Centropodidae and Crotophagidae respectively.

Cuckoos are birds of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. The feet are zygodactyl (the two inner toes pointed forward and the two outer backward). Most cuckoos occur in forests, but some prefer more open country. Most are insect eaters, with hairy caterpillars, which are avoided by many birds, being a specialty. Cuckoos range in size from the Little Bronze Cuckoo, at 17 g and 15 cm (6 inches), to the Channel-billed Cuckoo, at 630 g (1.4 lbs) and 63 cm (25 inches).

Cuckoo genera differ in the number of primary wing feathers as below.

Phaenicophaeus, Coccyzus, Piaya - 9
Cuculus - 9 or 10
Pachycoccyx, Clamator levaillantii, Centropus - 10
Microdynamis, Eudynamys,Clamator glandarius - 11
Some coucals - 12
Scythrops novaehollandiae - 13


About 56 of the Old World species and 3 of the New World species are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other birds. The best-known example is the European Common Cuckoo. The cuckoo egg hatches earlier than the host's, and the cuckoo chick grows faster; in most cases the chick evicts the eggs or young of the host species. The chick has no time to learn this behavior, so it must be an instinct passed on genetically. The mother still feeds the cuckoo chick as if it were her own, the chick's open mouth serving as a sign stimulus for the host to feed it.

Female parasitic cuckoos seem to specialize and lay eggs that closely resemble the eggs of their chosen host. This has also been aided by natural selection, as some birds are able to distinguish cuckoo eggs from their own, leading to those eggs least like the host's being thrown out of the nest. Parasitic cuckoos are grouped into gentes, with each gens specializing in a particular host. There is some evidence that the gentes are genetically different from one another.

The majority of cuckoo species, including malkohas, couas, coucals, and roadrunners and most other American cuckoos, build their own nests. 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.

Most of the nest-building cuckoos are monogamous, but the anis and the Guira Cuckoo lay their eggs in communal nests. Their behavior is not completely cooperative; a female may remove others' eggs when laying hers.

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.

Most cuckoos are insectivorous; and in particular are specialised in eating caterpillars, including noxious hairy types avoided by other birds. They will also take a wide range of other insects and animal prey. The lizard-cuckoos of the Caribbean have, in the relative absence of birds of prey, specialised in taking lizards. Larger, ground types such as coucals and roadrunners also feed variously on snakes, lizards, small rodents, and other birds, which they bludgeon with their strong bills.

Several koels, couas and the Channel-billed Cuckoo feed mainly on fruit, but they are not exclusively frugivores. The parasitic koels and Channel-billed Cuckoo in particular consume mainly fruit when raised by fruigivore hosts such as the Figbird and Pied Currawong. Other species will occasionally take fruit as well.

Cuckoos are often highly secretive and in many cases best known for their wide repertoire of calls. Calls are usually relatively simple, resembling whistles, flutes, or hiccups. The cuckoo family gets its English and scientific names from the call of the Common Cuckoo, which is also familiar from cuckoo clocks. Some of the names of other species and genera are also derived from their calls, for example the koels of Asia and Australasia. In most cuckoos the calls are distinctive to particular species, and are useful for identification. Several cryptic species have been identified on the basis of their calls.

Although cuckoos are diurnal, many species call at night.


Genus Dynamopterus - fossil (Late Eocene/Early Oligocene of Caylus, France)
Genus Cursoricoccyx - fossil (Early Miocene of Logan County, USA) - Neomorphinae?
Cuculidae gen. et sp. indet. - fossil (Early Pliocene of Lee Creek Mine, USA: Olson 1985)
Genus Nannococcyx - St Helena Cuckoo (extinct)
- St Helena Cuckoo (Nannococcyx psix)

Subfamily Cuculinae - Brood-parasitic cuckoos.

Genus Eocuculus - fossil (Late Eocene of Teller County, USA)
Genus Clamator (4 species)
- Great Spotted Cuckoo, Clamator glandarius
- Pied Cuckoo, Clamator jacobinus
- Levaillant's Cuckoo, Clamator levaillantii
- Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Clamator coromandus
Genus Pachycoccyx
- Thick-billed Cuckoo, Pachycoccyx audeberti
Genus Cuculus - typical cuckoos (some 15 species)
- Sulawesi Hawk-cuckoo, Cuculus crassirostris
- Large Hawk-cuckoo, Cuculus sparverioides
- Common Hawk-cuckoo, Cuculus varius
- Moustached Hawk-cuckoo, Cuculus vagans
- Hodgson's Hawk-cuckoo, Cuculus fugax
- Philippine Hawk-cuckoo, Cuculus pectoralis
- Red-chested Cuckoo, Cuculus solitarius
- Black Cuckoo, Cuculus clamosus
- Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus
- Common Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus
- African Cuckoo, Cuculus gularis
- Himalayan Cuckoo, Cuculus saturatus
- - Oriental Cuckoo, Cuculus saturatus optatus (formerly horsfieldi')
- - Sunda Cuckoo, Cuculus saturatus lepidus
- Lesser Cuckoo, Cuculus poliocephalus
- Madagascar Cuckoo, Cuculus rochii
- Pallid Cuckoo, Cuculus pallidus
Genus Cercococcyx - long-tailed cuckoos
- Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo, Cercococcyx mechowi
- Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Cercococcyx olivinus
- Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, Cercococcyx montanus
Genus Cacomantis
- Banded Bay Cuckoo, Cacomantis sonneratii
- Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus
- Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Cacomantis sepulcralis
- Grey-bellied Cuckoo, Cacomantis passerinus
- Brush Cuckoo, Cacomantis variolosus
- Moluccan Cuckoo, Cacomantis heinrichi
- Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Cacomantis castaneiventris
- Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Cacomantis flabelliformis
Genus Chrysococcyx - bronze cuckoos
- Black-eared Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx osculans
- Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx basalis
- Shining Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx lucidus
- Rufous-throated Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx ruficollis
- White-eared Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx meyeri
- Little Bronze Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx minutillus
- Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx maculatus
- Violet Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
- Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx flavigularis
- Klaas' Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx klaas
- African Emerald Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx cupreus
- Dideric Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx caprius
Genus Rhamphomantis
- Long-billed Cuckoo, Rhamphomantis megarhynchus
Genus Surniculus - drongo-cuckoos
- Asian Drongo-cuckoo, Surniculus lugubris
- Philippine Drongo-cuckoo, Surniculus velutinus
Genus Caliechthrus
- White-crowned Koel, Caliechthrus leucolophus
Genus Microdynamis
- Dwarf Koel, Microdynamis parva
Genus Eudynamys - true koels
- Black-billed Koel, Eudynamys melanorhynchus
- Asian Koel, Eudynamys scolopaceus
- Australian Koel, Eudynamys cyanocephalus
- Long-tailed Koel, Eudynamys taitensis
- Henderson Island Koel, Eudynamis cf. taitensis - prehistoric
Genus Scythrops
- Channel-billed Cuckoo, Scythrops novaehollandiae

Subfamily Phaenicophaeinae - Malkohas and couas.

Genus Ceuthmochares
- Yellowbill, Ceuthmochares aereus
Genus Phaenicophaeus - malkohas (12 species)
- Black-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus diardi
- Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus sumatranus
- Blue-faced Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus viridirostris
- Green-billed Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus tristis
- Sirkeer Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus leschenaultii
- Raffles' Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus chlorophaeus
- Red-billed Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus javanicus
- Yellow-billed Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus calyorhynchus
- Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus curvirostris
- Red-faced Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus pyrrhocephalus
- Red-crested Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus superciliosus
- Scale-feathered Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus cumingi
Genus Carpococcyx - ground-cuckoos
- Sumatran Ground-cuckoo, Carpococcyx viridis
- Bornean Ground-cuckoo, Carpococcyx radiatus
- Coral-billed Ground-cuckoo, Carpococcyx renauldi
Genus Coua - couas (9 living species, 1 recently extinct)
- Ancient Coua, Coua primaeva - prehistoric
- Bertha's Coua, Coua berthae - prehistoric
- Running Coua, Coua cursor
- Giant Coua, Coua gigas
- Delalande's Coua, Coua delalandei - extinct (late 19th century)
- Coquerel's Coua, Coua coquereli
- Red-breasted Coua, Coua serriana
- Red-fronted Coua, Coua reynaudii
- Red-capped Coua, Coua ruficeps
- Crested Coua, Coua cristata
- - Greater Crested Coua, Coua cristata maxima - probably extinct (late 20th century)
- Verreaux's Coua, Coua verreauxi
- Blue Coua, Coua caerulea

Subfamily Coccyzinae - American cuckoos.

Genus Coccyzus - includes Saurothera and Hyetornis, and possibly distinct Micrococcyx (13+2 species)
- Dwarf Cuckoo, Coccyzus pumilus
- Ash-colored Cuckoo, Coccyzus cinereus
- Black-billed Cuckoo, Coccyzus erythropthalmus
- Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Coccyzus americanus
- Pearly-breasted Cuckoo, Coccyzus euleri
- Mangrove Cuckoo Coccyzus minor
- Cocos Island Cuckoo, Coccyzus ferrugineus
- Dark-billed Cuckoo, Coccyzus melacoryphus
- Gray-capped Cuckoo, Coccyzus lansbergi
- Chestnut-bellied Cuckoo, Coccyzus pluvialis
- Bay-breasted Cuckoo, Coccyzus rufigularis
- Great Lizard Cuckoo, Coccyzus merlini
- Puerto Rican Lizard Cuckoo, Coccyzus vieilloti
- Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo, Coccyzus vetula
- Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo, Coccyzus longirostris
Genus Piaya - includes possibly distinct Coccycua (2+1 species)
- Squirrel Cuckoo, Piaya cayana
- Black-bellied Cuckoo, Piaya melanogaster
- Little Cuckoo, Piaya minuta

Subfamily Neomorphinae - Typical ground-cuckoos.

Genus Neococcyx - fossil (Early Oligocene of C North America)
Genus Tapera - Striped Cuckoo
- Striped Cuckoo, Tapera naevia
Genus Dromococcyx
- Pheasant Cuckoo, Dromococcyx phasianellus
- Pavonine Cuckoo, Dromococcyx pavoninus
Genus Morococcyx
- Lesser Ground-cuckoo, Morococcyx erythropygus
Genus Geococcyx - roadrunners (2 species)
- Greater Roadrunner, Geococcyx californianus (southwestern United States)
- Lesser Roadrunner, Geococcyx velox (Mexico and Central America)
Genus Neomorphus
- Scaled Ground-cuckoo, Neomorphus squamiger
- Rufous-vented Ground-cuckoo, Neomorphus geoffroyi
- - Bah??a Rufous-vented Ground-cuckoo, Neomorphus geoffroyi maximiliani - extinct (mid-20th century)
- Banded Ground-cuckoo, Neomorphus radiolosus
- Rufous-winged Ground-cuckoo, Neomorphus rufipennis
- Red-billed Ground-cuckoo, Neomorphus pucheranii

Subfamily Centropodinae - Coucals.

Genus Centropus (some 30 species)
- Bay Coucal, Centropus celebensis
- Rufous Coucal, Centropus unirufus
- Black-faced Coucal, Centropus melanops
- Sunda Coucal, Centropus nigrorufus
- Buff-headed Coucal, Centropus milo
- Goliath Coucal, Centropus goliath
- Violaceous Coucal, Centropus violaceus
- Greater Black Coucal, Centropus menbeki
- Pied Coucal, Centropus ateralbus
- Pheasant Coucal, Centropus phasianinus
- - Timor Pheasant Coucal, Centropus phasianinus mui - extinct? (late 20th century?)
- Kai Coucal, Centropus spilopterus
- Lesser Black Coucal, Centropus bernsteini
- Biak Coucal, Centropus chalybeus
- Short-toed Coucal, Centropus rectunguis
- Black-hooded Coucal, Centropus steerii
- Greater Coucal, Centropus sinensis
- Brown Coucal, Centropus andamanensis
- Philippine Coucal, Centropus viridis
- Madagascar Coucal, Centropus toulou
- - Aldabra Coucal, Centropus toulou insularis
- - Assumption Island Coucal, Centropus toulou assumptionis - doubtfully distinct; extinct (c.1920s)
- Black Coucal, Centropus grillii
- Green-billed Coucal, Centropus chlororhynchus
- Lesser Coucal, Centropus bengalensis
- Black-throated Coucal, Centropus leucogaster
- Gabon Coucal, Centropus anselli
- Blue-headed Coucal, Centropus monachus
- Coppery-tailed Coucal, Centropus cupreicaudus
- Senegal Coucal, Centropus senegalensis
- White-browed Coucal, Centropus superciliosus
- Burchell's Coucal, Centropus burchelli
- Centropus collosus known from the quaternary Green Waterhole Cave, Tantanoola, South Australia.

Subfamily Crotophaginae - Anis.

Genus Crotophaga - true anis (3 species)
- Greater Ani, Crotophaga major
- Smooth-billed Ani, Crotophaga ani
- Groove-billed Ani, Crotophaga sulcirostris
Genus Guira - Guira Cuckoo
- Guira, Guira guira
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