Unsorted Wild Birds

Sirkeer Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus leschenaultii)

The Sirkeer Malkohas or Sirkeer Cuckoo (Phaenicophaeus leschenaultii), is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes, which also includes the roadrunners, the anis, and the Hoatzin. It is a resident bird in the Indian subcontinent.


All of the sub-Himalayan Indian subcontinent, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka; patchy in Pakistan and Rajasthan. Sometimes considered as three races, varying in colouration.


  • Size: A largish bird at 42 cm.
  • Appearance: Mainly earthy brown and rufous in colour, and the long heavy tail is edged with prominently white-tipped graduated cross-rayed tail feathers. An obvious relation of the Coucal (Crow Pheasant). Bill is hooked, bright cherry-red and yellow. Males and females look alike, but juveniles are duller and barred above.
  • Habitat: Largely terrestrial, open scrub and thorn jungle, deciduous secondary jungle. Singly or in pairs.
  • Behaviour: Stalks about amongst thickets like Crow-Pheasant, searching for food; insects, lizards, fallen fruits and berries, etc. Runs swiftly through undergrowth looking like mongoose. Feeble flier, but ascends trees rapidly, hopping from branch to branch with great agility, like the Coucal.
  • Call: Normally a subdued “bzuk… bzuk” ; also an alarm call of “p’tang” with a metallic quality.
  • Food: A variety of insects, caterpillars and small vertebrates. It occasionally eats berries.


This cuckoo, like other Malkohas, is non-parasitic.

  • Season – March to August (varying with latitude)
  • Nest: a shallow saucer of twigs lined with green leaves, in a thorn bush such as Euphorbia, or sapling 2 to 7 m up.
  • Eggs: 2 or 3, white, with a chalky texture.

The scientific name of this bird commemorates the French botanist Jean Baptiste Leschenault de la Tour.

Malkohas Information and Listing of SpeciesMalkohas Photo Gallery


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Your email address will not be published.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