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Contrastingly blackish tail and uppertail-coverts, tail with white tip and whtie spots at sides
Unbarred white bend of wing below
Light grey throat and breast
White belly with black bars
Undertail-coverts often barred black
Females are similar, sometimes with a rufous washed breast. Occurs also in a rufous morph (both sexes).
Juveniles are slate-grey with white bars above, a black face with white bars and a barred black and white breast and belly.
Oriental Cuckoo and Himalayan Cuckoo are larger and have different calls.
Very similar to the Madagascar Cuckoo; probably not always safely distinguished in the field. Thin bars, weakly marked undertails and a pale head are good features for Madagascar Cuckoo.
This is a monotypic species.
Subspecies assamicus is generally considered invalid.
Forms a superspecies with Madagascar Cuckoo and both are sometimes treated as conspecific. Sunda Cuckoo has been placed in this species sometimes, but present evidence does not support this.