Backyard Birds

Indian Cuckoos

The Indian Cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus, is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes, which also includes the roadrunners, the anis, and the Hoatzin.

It is a common resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from Pakistan and India, Sri Lanka east to Indonesia. It is a solitary bird, found in forests and open woodland at up to 3,600 m.


The Indian Cuckoo is a brood parasite. It lays its single egg mostly in the nests of drongos and crows.


Like other cuckoos, it eats a variety of insects and caterpillars.


The Indian Cuckoo is a large cuckoo at 33 cm in length. Adults are grey-brown with a paler grey throat and upper breast. The underparts are white with dark barring and the tail is edged with prominent white spots. Males and females look alike, but juveniles are browner and have broad white tips to the head and wing feathers.

This species is similar in size and general appearance to the Common Cuckoo, a summer migrant which overlaps in range, especially in the Himalayas. The Indian Cuckoo is browner above, more heavily barred below, and has larger white tail spots. The completely different calls mean that confusion is only likely with silent birds.

Call / Song:

The Indian Cuckoos is a noisy species, with a persistent four-note Bo-ko-ta-ko call.


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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