Backyard Birds

Pied Cuckoo, Pied Crested Cuckoo or Jacobin Cuckoo

The Pied Cuckoo, Pied Crested Cuckoo, or Jacobin Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus) is native to Africa.

Distribution / Habitat

The Pied Cuckoos occur south of the Sahara Desert eastwards to India, Sri Lanka, and Burma.

They are native to:

Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan; Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe

They are vagrants to:

Congo, Djibouti, Sao Tomé and Principe, Seychelles and Thailand

They are short-distance migrants. Those breeding at northerly latitudes or higher altitudes will travel to warmer or wetter areas for the winter.

They inhabit scrub, wetlands, and cultivated areas.


The Pied Cuckoo is a largish cuckoo averaging 13 inches (33 cm) in length. Adults have a prominent crest and a long, graduated tail.

They occur in two distinct color morphs (genetic mutation):

  • Adults of the light morph are black above with a white under plumage.
  • Adults of the dark morph are completely black, except for a small white wing patch which occurs in both morphs.
  • Immature birds are browner above and yellowish-white below.

Breeding / Nesting

These brood parasites will lay their egg in the nest of other birds (mostly the Turdoides babblers), for them to raise them as their own.


The Pied Cuckoo feeds on various insects and caterpillars.

Call / Vocalization:

This noisy species makes persistent and loud pipew pipew pipew calls.


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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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

Back to top button