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Scale-feathered Malkoha - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Romy Ocon
Mount Makiling, Laguna Province, Philippines, October 2004

Alternative names: Scale-feathered Cuckoo, Scaly Cuckoo

Dasylophus cumingi

Phaenicophaeus cumingi


42cm. A unique malkoha.

  • Grey head with flat, scaly glossy blue-black feathers
  • Dark brown upperparts
  • Glossy dark green to blue wings and rump
  • Blackish tail with white tip
  • Chestnut breast and dull black belly
  • Red bare skin around eye, dotted with small warts
  • Pale creamy-buff to brown bill

Sexes similar. Juveniles have a reddish brown head, wings and body, becoming blackish glossed bluish green over lower back, rump and wings. The scaly head feathers begin to grow when the bird is still short-tailed.


Endemic to the northern Philippines where found on Luzon, Marinduque and Catanduanes.
Fairly common in suitable habitat. However the continued forest destruction surely presents a major threat to this species.


This is a Monotypic species.
Placed in genus Dasylophus by Dickinson (2003) and Gill & Wright (2008). Others place it in Phaenicophaeus or in its own genus Lepidogrammus.


Forests with dense vines.
Occurs from lowlands up to 2000m.



Feeds on insects, scorpions, snails, worms and small lizards and snakes. Known to prey on small passerines trapped in mist-nets. Forages in lower strata of forest. Usually seen singly or in small groups. Often found in mixed-species flocks.


Presumed breeding season from March to May. The nest is reported to be a flimsy, cup-shaped structure. Lays 2 to 3 egg.


A resident species. However a record from Dalton Pass suggest some dispersal.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2012. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to October 2012. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and J Sargatal, eds. 1997. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334221
  3. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2012. IOC World Bird Names (version 3.2). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  4. Dickinson EC (ed.) 2003. The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. 3rd ed. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ, USA. ISBN 9780691117010

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