Backyard Birds

Grey-bellied Cuckoos or the Indian Plaintive Cuckoos

The Grey-bellied Cuckoo or the Indian Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis passerinus, is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes, which also includes the roadrunners, the anis, and the Hoatzin.

It breeds in tropical southern Asia from India and Sri Lanka to south China and Indonesia. It is a short-distance migrant, since birds at more northerly latitudes and on higher ground are summer visitors, leaving for warmer areas in winter.

The Grey-bellied Cuckoo is a bird of light woodland and cultivation.


It is a brood parasite and lays its single egg in the nests of warblers.


The Grey-bellied Cuckoo is a smallish cuckoo at 23 cm.

Adults are mainly grey with a white lower belly and undertail. Some females are of the hepatic form, which is dark-barred reddish brown above with an unbarred tail, and has strongly dark-barred whitish underparts.

The juvenile is a duller greyer version of the female.


The Grey-bellied Cuckoo takes a variety of insects and caterpillars.

Call / Vocalization:

It is a noisy species, with a persistent and loud pee-pip-pee-pee call.


  • BirdLife International (2004). 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  • Birds of India by Grimmett, Inskipp and Inskipp, ISBN 0-691-04910-6

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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