Return to index page



Cuckoo  Cuculidae

Under this group, there are 3 main categories of birds :- The parasitic Cuckoo, the Malkohas and lastly the Ground Cuckoos. In the whole world, classified under this group of birds, there are 79 species and South East Asia .has 27 of them. I have separated these 3 groups into their individual page. This page deals solely on Parasitic Cuckoos.

From this broad group of 27 birds, I have extracted 16 birds which are named as Cuckoo and also reported as sighted in Malaysia. I am happy to say that as confirmed by recent reports, chances of sighting birds listed within this group of Parasitic Cuckoos are extremely good.

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus
Large Hawk-Cuckoo Cuculus sparverioides
Moustached Hawk-Cuckoo Cuculus vagans
Hodgson's Hawk-Cuckoo Cuculus fugax
Northern Hawk-Cuckoo Cuculus hyperythrus
Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus
Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus
Lesser Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus
Banded Bay Cuckoo Cacomantis sonneratii
Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus
Brush Cuckoo Cacomantis variolosus
Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx basalis
Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus
Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculatus
Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
Asian Drongo-Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris

Having said that there is a good chance of seeing these Cuckoos in Malaysia, sad to say most people in the country do not know the existence of the real Cuckoo in the country. They have not seen one or even they may had chance encounter, which is fairly frequent, they may not recognize one. Why? Cuckoo birds are never seen in public places. The locals who have some interest in birds assume that Cuckoos are the regular birds we see in the park i.e. Spotted Dove and Zebra Dove.

Cuckoo is a familiar name for birds and calls from Cuckoo birds are heard so often. E.g. those of the Plaintive Cuckoo in our parks and the calls from Indian Cuckoo are just too familiar and loud at forest edge. Then why are the locals not familiar then?

Cuckoos are heard but never seen as they prefer the high canopy to make their calls. When down in the lower storey and in open branches, they were never seen calling. That's why it is possible to co-relate the calls with the birds. Since Cuckoo is such a familiar name, has to equate that the familiar Dove that e see have to assume that role. Also can be seen from this page, I manage to accumulate pictures of the lesser seen Cuckoos and not that much from the more common Indian, Plaintive and Little Cuckoos.

As the description "parasitic" for this group suggest, the birds lay their eggs in the nest of other birds than remove the eggs of the occupants. Here in Malaysia, the bird would choose those birds with open nest like that of Prinias, Tailorbird and Bulbuls, which are a fraction of its adult size. These nest again are in the lower storey or even in bushes. It is quite a common sight to witness a tiny adult mother bird feeding a baby of gigantic size at the nest.


1. Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 40 Cm. It is not easy to pin point a place where and when the bird could be sighted. The bird is a passage migrant. The Chestnut-winged Cuckoo with its slender body and long tail a rather long bird measures rather long but not a huge bird.  The upper part is glossy dark with a prominent crest, then a white collar behind the neck. The wing is large and in rufous-chestnut color. The under part is white with a buffy rufous throat.

 Distribution :-  Found the region of north-eastern India, central and southern China. Winters in Greater Sundas, Philippines and Sulawesi area. This is a migratory bird in Malaysia, sighting during the season is sporadic.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland birds that prefers secondary forest with bamboo clumps and also dried mangrove forest.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- I found the bird in the habitats as described. mangrove forest in Bagan Sungei Buloh and up in the hills of Bukit Laggong among the bamboos.
 My personal jottings :-

This is a fairly large bird at 40 cm but unlike the Koel is a slender bird. It could be in the open forest edge and also among dense forest, in both conditions I had met up with the birds.

In Malaysia, it is only a passage migrant and sighting in the short period is considered lucky. So would be difficult to seek it but since the preferred habitat is that of Mangrove forest, secondary forest and Bamboo clumps, then when we are in that environment and around that time, stay vigilant for the sudden flight across.

The bird stays in the lower storey, like all Cuckoos, very still but shy of human presence. I missed many opportunities as they flew before I was ready to shoot.  

Example of the bird's call :-    and Video:-

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo     # 1

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo      # 2

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo    # 3

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo     # 4

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo      # 5

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo    # 6

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo     # 7

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo      # 8

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo    # 9


2. Asian Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris brachyurus


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 24 Cm. The Drongo Cuckoo is a bulky bird at 24 cm long. It has a a glossy greenish black plumage, white bars on the under tail. While the tail is squarely cut but could noticed that it is slightly forked as well. The bird has a down curved bill. The juvenile is slightly browner with distinct white spots all over. The striking features of this bird is the time of the juvenile stage when the birds would be covered with white spots.

 Distribution :-  It breeds in north eastern India and south western China, then Sri Langka, Greater Sundas and the the Philippines. This bird is also spotted during the migratory season in good numbers. Other times, there may be vagrant and meeting up is very difficult. This could be easily confirm, the bird's presence is noted by its call.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a bird of the low land forest but sometimes found in sub-montane region.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The bird prefers deep jungles and hang around the middle storey and canopy area. But is a curious bird that descend when seeing approaching humans. Its presence in the area is signally by its calls, usually up in the hills. have met the bird up in Awana and Frasers Hills.
 My personal jottings :-

The bird is sometimes called the "Square-tailed Drongo" as its tail are  not that deeply forked like the rest. The second diagnostic markings would the white barring underneath the under tail coverts.. The juvenile is distinctly easy to ID as it has spots on its wing feathers. The one in Malaysia a sub species varies from the species from the Indian sub-continent. This bird is fairly stout at 24 cm long.

The bird prefer forest edge  of the lowland and sub-montane dense forest. Remain in exposed position of  the middle storey. While there were claim that the bird is resident but only seen certain times of the year. It's presence is easily detected as the bird perched in clear view. So far all those I encountered made no attempts to fly off for some peace and away from interference.

This bird has the tendency to migrate as there was report of sighting of another sub species, the Surniculus lugubris dicruroides in the northern states, unlikely but be advised.


Example of the bird's call:-    and Video:-

Drongo Cuckoo  # 1

Drongo Cuckoo  # 2

Drongo Cuckoo  # 3

Drongo Cuckoo  # 4

Drongo Cuckoo  # 5

Drongo Cuckoo  # 6

Drongo Cuckoo  # 7

Drongo Cuckoo  # 8

Drongo Cuckoo  # 9

Drongo Cuckoo    # 10

Drongo Cuckoo     # 11

Drongo Cuckoo   # 12

Drongo Cuckoo    # 16

Drongo Cuckoo     # 17

Drongo Cuckoo   # 18

Drongo Cuckoo    # 19

Drongo Cuckoo     # 20

Drongo Cuckoo   # 21

Drongo Cuckoo  # 22

Drongo Cuckoo  # 23

Drongo Cuckoo  # 24

Drongo Cuckoo  # 25

Drongo Cuckoo  #26

Drongo Cuckoo  # 27


3. Little Bronze Cuckoo  Chrysococcyx minutillus peninsularis


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 16 Cm. The Little Bronze Cuckoo as the name implies is only 16 cm long. It has a bronze green upper part, this shade is more prominent on the wings. The tiny patch on the crown is more green, again only seen at certain angle. Finally other features would be a black bill and a red eye ring.

 Distribution :-  This is a bird of the Sundas, Greater and Lesser and the islands in the south. This bird shows little apprehension for human presence. hence if it is around, noticeably making short flight or perched in prominent open branch, middle to low storey.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland bird that prefers mangrove forest but also prefers secondary forest. That is why the bird do strays into public park as well.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- Saw the in Kuala Selangor Nature Park and also a couple of parks in the urban area.
 My personal jottings:-

 A bird that selects the middle storey and perched among thick foliages. It remained perched for long period of time.

Though a bird of the Greater Sundas, it is a resident of Malaysia. This is a lowland forest bird that prefers areas of the mangrove swamps. Not surprising then, I also had some pictures of the bird in the Kuala Selangor Nature Park.

At times, they were seen in open parks and also in public parks. As the bird is small and also remain stationary most time, it is rather difficult to pick the bird up. This bird shares many similarity with the Horsfield 's Bronze Cuckoo but so far the latter was never confirmed as sighted.

Example of the bird's call:-    and Video:-

Little Bronze Cuckoo  # 1

Little Bronze Cuckoo  # 2

Little Bronze Cuckoo   # 3

Little Bronze Cuckoo   # 4

Little Bronze Cuckoo  # 5

Little Bronze Cuckoo   # 6

Little Bronze Cuckoo   # 7

Little Bronze Cuckoo  # 8

Little Bronze Cuckoo   # 9

Little Bronze Cuckoo   # 10

juvenile Bronze Cuckoo  # 11

juvenile Bronze Cuckoo   # 12

juvenile Bronze Cuckoo   # 16

juvenile Bronze Cuckoo  # 17

juvenile Bronze Cuckoo   # 18

juvenile Bronze Cuckoo   # 19

juvenile Bronze Cuckoo  # 20

juvenile Bronze Cuckoo   # 21

juvenile Bronze Cuckoo   # 22

juvenile Bronze Cuckoo  # 23

juvenile Bronze Cuckoo   # 24

juvenile Bronze Cuckoo   # 25

juvenile Bronze Cuckoo  # 26

juvenile Bronze Cuckoo   # 27


4. Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus lepidus


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 26 Cm. This is a medium size Cuckoo which could easily reaches 30 cm long. The bird has a grey upper part, grey head and breast. The under part is white with bars.

 Distribution :-  It is a resident in the Sundas but breeds in the northern region of the Indian sub-continent, China, Taiwan and Korea. Cannot say much about this Cuckoo. Limited to the special area and seldom seen as well. They are sub-montane, an area that we are spending much less birding time.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a sub-montane bird preferring deep forest. but could go down to sea level environment as a passage migrant.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- So far I had seen this bird in sub-montane climate as in Awana and Frasers Hills.
 My personal jottings:-

I thought this is a bulky Cuckoo at 26 cm long. This is a bird of the sub-montane climate and choose the middle storey to be among some leaves. The bird seldom calls and meeting with it is by chance as the bird remain perched in one position for some time even on approaches by humans.

This is a bird of the Himalayas area and spread to the northern parts of china and Japan. It usually winters in the Philippines and the region south. In is resident in Malaysia

Though no chance of tracking the bird, but I believe that there is a good population in the Frasers Hills and Awana Resort area. If the bird is hanging around in the area, there is a good chance as the bird's another habit is to stay at well exposed points too, good for sightings. Describing the bird's color is one thing but seeing its pictures tells another story. The series of pictures below give good examples  of the colors of this bird.

Many pictures show the brownish colored bird. This one is a female hepatic morph. She has rufescent brown instead of grey as upper part and the under part, white with blackish brown bars. Then there other pictures showing the grayish Cuckoo

Example of the bird's call:-    and Video:-

Oriental Cuckoo   # 1

Oriental Cuckoo   # 2

Oriental Cuckoo    # 3

Oriental Cuckoo    # 4

Oriental Cuckoo    # 5

Oriental Cuckoo   # 6

Oriental Cuckoo    # 7

Oriental Cuckoo    # 8

Oriental Cuckoo   # 9

Oriental Cuckoo    # 10

Oriental Cuckoo    # 11

Oriental Cuckoo   # 12

Oriental Cuckoo    # 16

Oriental Cuckoo    # 17

Oriental Cuckoo   # 18

Oriental Cuckoo    # 19

Oriental Cuckoo    # 20

Oriental Cuckoo   # 21

Oriental Cuckoo    # 22

Oriental Cuckoo    # 23

Oriental Cuckoo   # 24

Oriental Cuckoo    # 25

Oriental Cuckoo    # 26

Oriental Cuckoo   # 27


5. Rusty-breasted Cuckoo Cacomantis sepulcralis  


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 24 Cm. The Rusty-breasted Cuckoo is typical Cuckoo in looks and size. It has a darker grey upper part and the rufous under part that reaches out further to the throat. Very important to differentiate this Cuckoo from another similar looking cousins. Another point, this Cuckoo has a gold eye ring whereas the Plaintive has grey eye ring.

 Distribution :-  This is a resident of the Greater Sundas and the Islands south of it. Common bird but very confusing as there are few Cuckoos in this habitat and almost all looks close, until given time to verify the diagnostic markings.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland forest edge bird. Again like most Cuckoo, they prefers elevated ground like those of the low hills. But this bird do descend onto Parks in the valley floor.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The bird is often heard but hardly seen. As its descend to the lowlands, it remains in the middle to upper storey and that is also the time the bird do not call. It is actually quite a common bird.
 My personal jottings:-

There are these 2 Cuckoos, Plaintive [22 cm] & the Rusty-breasted Cuckoos [24 cm] with body shape and profiles very close to one another. Both birds can be seen in the same environment and that we normally would meet up with them in the lowland forest. At first - looks, a daunting task to separate them apart. But actually it is easy, the Rusty-breasted as the name suggest has the entire under part peachy rufous. The Plaintive has a grey throat and upper beast.

 On the contrary, the female bird of this species Rusty-breasted shares colors and pattern with that of the Plaintive.

 Sighting the bird again is a matter of chance encounter. But the bird was frequently in the area, sometimes it descended lower from the trees on the slope to those on level ground. That time decided to be seen, by appearing in the middle storey of the "Rain Tree" and staying along some exposed bough of trees. It did call and these times could be guided to its whereabout by its call. Otheriwse the bird normally perched at the uppers storey or tip of the tallest bare branches. Fairly common in park with low hills and tall trees on the elevated grounds.


Example of the bird's call:-    and Video:-

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo   # 1

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo   # 2

Rusty-breastedCuckoo    # 3

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo    # 4

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo    # 5

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo   # 6

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo    # 7

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo    # 8

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo   # 9

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo    # 10

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo    # 11

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo   # 12

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo    # 13

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo    # 14

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo   # 15

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo    # 16

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo    # 17

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo   # 18

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo    # 19

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo    # 20


6. Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus threnodes  


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 22 Cm. Number appear for references as the lone bird looks the same as the Rusty -breasted. The distinctive marking is that the grey on the breast and this markings ends before reaching the throat, Most important, the bird has a complete grey head and throat. Apart from this fact, The underpart is in peach and the upper part in Grey. The tail is graduated ending with whitish tip.

 Distribution :-  This is a bird of North-east India, Bangladesh, southern China and the Sundas. Same comments as I had for the Rusty-breasted Cuckoo.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland bird that prefer secondary jungle, forest edge, open woodlands and parks.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The bird is very common in elevated places like low hills and tall trees. Its call loud are heard consistently. For that reason the bird prefers not to be spotted but choosing a well concealed spot in the upper storey. Available almost every where with low hills or large area of open land.
 My personal jottings:-

The Plaintive Cuckoo has a higher incidence to be seen when compared with the Rusty-breasted Cuckoo. Practically on most trip I heard its calls more often than that of the Indian Cuckoo. Of course the Rusty-breasted was in a distant 3rd position for frequency. In the appropriate season the Drongo Cuckoo calls would be even more frequently heard, pushing calls from the Rusty-breasted further down.

In Malaysia, the bird is a long time resident and common bird, only to be heard and not seen.

This bird is heard more often near park and jungle fringes. In heavily forest woods, the calls of the Indian Cuckoo was heard more often. But at forest edge and open country, that calls of the plaintive is monopoly. Both calls heard rather frequent or I could even say without fail. So near built up areas more likely it is the Plaintive.

One type of call a secondary 3 notes call not heard that often but very distinctive is interpreted by the villagers as "Thin Tiu Sui". The rain is imminent.

Example of the bird's call:-    and Video:-

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 1

Plaintive Cuckoo  #2

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 3

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 4

Plaintive Cuckoo  # 5

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 6

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 7

Plaintive Cuckoo  #8

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 9

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 10

Plaintive Cuckoo  # 11

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 12

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 13

Plaintive Cuckoo  # 14

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 15

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 16

Plaintive Cuckoo  # 17

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 18

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 19

Plaintive Cuckoo  #20

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 21

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 22

Plaintive Cuckoo  # 23

Plaintive Cuckoo   #24

Plaintive Cuckoo   # 25

Plaintive Cuckoo  # 26

Plaintive Cuckoo   #27


7. Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus cretus 


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 31Cm. The measurement for this Cuckoo is big. Hardly ever seen at close range, I never felt that it is a big bird at all. Perhaps those found elsewhere are even bigger in size. This is the most recognizable Cuckoo, its head is grey and the upper part in brown. The tail has broken and subtle bands and the eye ring yellow.

 Distribution :-  This is the bird of the Sundas but breed in the Indian sub-continent. This is the most vocal of all Cuckoo, challenged only by the Plaintive. So they are always there at the forest edge and their presences hinted by their call. Unable to see them as they are well concealed in the upper storey.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland forest bird that prefers hills, staying in the canopy level most of the time.  The bird needs great height to send its calls to great distances.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The behavior of the Indian Cuckoo is similar to that of teh Plaintive Cuckoo. Calling continuously for long period of time the birds remain hidden in high places. The Plaintive Cuckoo chooses open park while the Indian Cuckoo prefers forested area. The bird is also readily available.
 My personal jottings:-

This is one of those few Cuckoos with the slender body shape and profiles of the "common" Cuckoo that we normally would meet up with in the lowland forest. This long bird have rather distinctive colors on the male bird that makes ID easy. On the contrary, the female bird of this species shares colors and pattern with that of the Plaintive.

Sighting the bird again is a matter of chance encounter when at time the bird decided on appearing in the middle storey and appearing along some exposed bough of trees.  Can be guided to its calls its  whereabout , but normally would be at the uppers storey or tip of the tallest bare branches. I have poor record in locating the bird even though I have numerous encounters with its calls. More often in densely wooded forest. Also common in park with low hills and tall trees on the elevated grounds.


Example of the bird's call:-    and Video:-

The 4 notes call is equivalent to that in English "One for the road" and in Cantonese "Choe Choe Sau Tong". Our private jokes as the calls is heard so often.


juvenile Cuckoo   # 1

juvenile  Cuckoo  # 2

Indian Cuckoo   # 3

Indian Cuckoo   # 4

Indian Cuckoo  # 5

Indian Cuckoo   # 6

Indian Cuckoo   # 7

Indian Cuckoo  # 8

Indian Cuckoo   # 9

Indian Cuckoo   # 10

Indian Cuckoo  # 11

Indian Cuckoo   # 12

Indian Cuckoo   # 16

Indian Cuckoo  # 17

Indian Cuckoo   # 18

Indian Cuckoo   # 19

Indian Cuckoo  # 20

Indian Cuckoo   # 21


8. Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 17 Cm. The Violet Cuckoo joins the rank of the Little Bronze Cuckoo. measuring only 17 cm. This is an extremely colorful bird with violet purple on its upper part and the lower part in white bars that extend from the breast to the vent. The bird also has a colorful red bill.

 Distribution :-  The bird is resident in north-eastern India, the Andaman island, the Greater Sundas and the Philippines. Medium size bird but so often high up in the canopy. Making understanding of them so difficult. I better reserve my comments until, I cold confirm more facts.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland forest bird that prefers tall trees. It can also be seen in the sub-montane area. The bird do come out to the forest edge and even parks.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- This is a tiny bird considering the great height  where the bird is usually perched. It is only the calls that attracts our attention to comb the likely vicinity of the tree top to locate it.
 My personal jottings:-

This is a colorful small Cuckoo of 17 cm long body. Unfortunately the pictures below that of the juvenile is not a good representative of this supposedly violet-purple looking bird.

This is another lowland Cuckoo, but could also be seen in low hills. During non breeding season, the bird could descend into domestic gardens. That was the place where I got the pictures of this juvenile. Hardly seen, this little bird prefers upper storey, which compound the problem of sightings. This is another bird that is not easy to follow up with.

The bird is resident in Indian sub-continent, Andaman and greater Sundas and also in small numbers, resident in Malaysia now. Meeting up with the bird is accidental only when the birds varies its perch to the lower exposed branches.

Example of the bird's call:-    and Video:-

juvenile Cuckoo  # 1

juvenile Cuckoo  # 2

juvenile Cuckoo  # 3

juvenile Cuckoo  # 4

juvenile Cuckoo  # 5

juvenile Cuckoo  # 6

juvenile Cuckoo  # 7

juvenile Cuckoo  # 8

juvenile Cuckoo  # 9


There are still a couple of Cuckoo that are available in Malaysia and that I do not have any pictures yet. Hopefully that I could get the wanted pictures soon. But to continue this page, there are the larger Cuckoo birds, the Hawk Cuckoo Hawks.


Hawk Cuckoo

1. Large Hawk Cuckoo Cuculus sparverioides bocki


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 40 Cm. This is a large  and stocky bird at 40 cm. Has all the appearances of a hawk, grey colored head and sides, upper part grayish brown and under part light color with dark bars.

 Distribution :-  Resident in Sumatra and Borneo Islands. This bird is so often heard in Frasers Hills but well hidden in the upper storey. Though large bird, could not be spotted until the bird change perch. That would take a while.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is supposing to be a bird of the mangrove forest but on migration stays in the sub-montane to montane environment.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The bird is common in Frasers Hills, its whereabouts is signaled by its very loud calls.
 My personal jottings:-

The bird at the first look may be mistaken as a Accipiter with its hawkish look. This Malaysian species is smaller at only 33 cm. This a bird of the sub-montane climate and chooses the upper storey. Its presence again may be detected through its very loud calls. More often than not the bird would be well camouflaged from sight. Sometimes the incessant call over a long period could get very irritating. I once had the call coming from the upper storey of a tree which should be about 80 feet high. I could not detect the bird despites of following the calls for minutes.

The obvious place to see the bird is Frasers Hill where the bird is quite often heard. The call is heard fairly often. I was lucky that bird came fairly low for me to get this series of pictures.


Example of the bird's call:-    and Video:-

Large Hawk Cuckoo   # 1

Large Hawk Cuckoo    # 2

Large Hawk Cuckoo   # 3

Large Hawk Cuckoo    # 4

Large Hawk Cuckoo    # 5

Large Hawk Cuckoo    # 6

Large Hawk Cuckoo    # 7

Large Hawk Cuckoo    # 8

Large Hawk Cuckoo    # 9

Large Hawk Cuckoo    # 10

Large Hawk Cuckoo    # 11

Large Hawk Cuckoo    # 12


2. Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo   Cuculus fugax fugax


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 30 Cm. This is a smaller Hawk Cuckoo at 30 cm long. It has a dark slaty head sides and crown. Under part is in creamy white with blackish streaks from throat to belly and flanks.

 Distribution :-  This is a bird from the Greater Sundas, foot of the Himalayas in north-eastern India, southern China, from Siberia to Japan. Meeting up with this bird is by chance, though a big bird and unilke other Cuckoo, perched in fairly open branches, yet hard to encounter.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland bird, preferring low hills and heavily forested areas, especially areas with s stream flowing..
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- Had captured pictures in Ampang forest and also that in Pertak, both places deep forest beside the river.
 My personal jottings:-

This is one bird that drew a lot of controversies. Its differentiation from the Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo. the later as one of the birds was not sighted for a long time. What it meant was - there was a split of the Hierococyx fugax into 2 separate sub species, now the name is Cuculus fugax fugax which is now commonly called Malaysian Hawk-cuckoo. The second subspecies is the Cuculus fugax nisicolor, commonly known as Hodgson's Hawk-Cuckoo. This Hodgson's Cuckoo, a bird from Sub-tropical Asia and is also wintering in Malaysia.

 Both birds are identical except for minute difference in measurements which an average person in the field is unable to do.

The main difficulty is identifying the adult from the immature. The immature from both birds are almost impossible to tell apart. Perhaps only the differences between the matured may be a little bit clearer. The Hodgson has an orangey rufous wash on its breast whereas the Malaysian has much heavier streaking. Therefore, understanding this important point helps the birder to be more certain in making a quick ID in the field. Bearing in that the chances of the Hodgson's being encountered is less likely.

This is a lowland bird and could be seen up low hills as well. A bird of the forest normally perched in the middle storey. On the 3 occasions I met all birds at a locations beside the river. It showed little concern for human presence and was curious in understanding its surroundings. You may not have similar good fortune to meet up with the birds again in places where these pictures were taken. I can reveal the locations as Congkak Forest Park, Ampang Forest Park and lastly a picnic area along Sungei Chilling.


Example of the bird's call:-    and Video:-

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo # 1

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo  # 2

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo   # 3

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo  # 4

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo  # 5

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo   # 6

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo  # 7

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo  # 8

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo  # 9

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo  # 10

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo  # 11

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo  # 12

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo  # 16

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo  # 17

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo  # 18

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo  # 19

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo  # 20

Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo  # 21


Next topic would be about the parasitic nature of Cuckoos in general. But here are 2 interesting pictures, showing a situation which I would consider extreme.

The adult Cuckoo would spot a "host" bird normally small size bird which is ready for bringing out a new brood of chicks. The Cuckoo would then lay its own egg onto the nest and then discard the eggs laid by the host. The host unconsciously would hatch this egg, even though it may be of a different texture and size.

The egg usually only one, would then hatch and next would be a scene of a small parent bird feeding a hatchling much bigger than its own size.


These are picture of the Yellow & Black Broadbill feeding a chick belonging to the Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo. Prior to this happening, the female bird of the Cuckoo needed to enter the nest of the Broadbill. A nest which one suspended and with a small opening tailored for use by the Broadbill for themselves. Here I am unable to imagine how this particular nest was constructed for the Cuckoo to capitalize on the opportunity.

The picture on the right was taken a week later and the host bird was till feeding the young chicks which by then showed clearer marking for ID.


Beside the parasitic nature of these bird, they are nice looking. Their loud calls are very pleasant to hear and also keeping the environment alive. In fact, a couple of species are also very pretty except that they are so rare and we cannot enjoy seeing them.

Sightings of the commonly heard cuckoo and getting pictures is the same. Hence the chances of meeting up with the rarer birds and those regularly heard in the park are almost the same. My experiences showed that getting pictures of the less common ones are easier as once they were seen unexpectedly, they remained perched for a while. The regulars to the park would not leave immediately but continued moving from branches to branches.

Of all the Cuckoos shown here, the Drongo Cuckoo is readily seen followed by the Little Bronze Cuckoo. Then, the reverse, all the other species are encountered only on rare chance meeting basis.