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Black Cuckoo - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Alan Manson
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, November 2007
Cuculus clamosus


Length 29-31 cm, mass about 90 g. Plumage is black with a greenish gloss on the upperparts, and black below. The tail has a white tip. Some individuals (more females than males) have rufous and brown barring on the underparts. The bill, legs and feet are black, and the eyes brown.
There is variation in the colour of the underparts between the two subspecies.


Sub-Saharan Africa
Western Africa: Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Angola
Eastern Africa: Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi
Southern Africa: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, eSwatini

Southern African birds are intra-African migrants, arriving in their breeding grounds in September and October.



There are two subspecies:

  • C. c. gabonensis:
  • C. c. clamosus: The southern race (described above)


Forest, woodland, thickets, and plantations.


Generally solitary. Seldom seen, even when calling; usually perched high in a tree.


Forages, mainly for caterpillars, in the canopy; sometimes takes prey aerially or on the ground. Also eats other insects, birds eggs and nestlings.


A brood parasite; hosts are mainly Laniarius shrikes, including the Tropical Boubou, Southern Boubou, and Crimson-breasted Shrike in southern Africa.


The song is distinctive: The male has a loud, monotonous whistle "hoop-hoo whoooo"; also a wild, whirling "whirly, whirly, whirly,.....". In southern Africa call from September to December.


  1. Clements, JF. 2008. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2008. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019.
  2. Avibase
  3. Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ & Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Robert's Birds of Southern Africa, 7th edition. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 0620340533

Recommended Citation

External Links

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