Scientifically known as cuculus canorus, it is so called due to its characteristic calling cuckoo bird sound. The bird has been playing the special role of announcing the time every hour by appearing out of its wooden house in a cuckoo clock. The real bird, however, lives in parts of Europe, Australia and Asia. Find out more about this fascinating bird through the following description and cuckoo bird facts.

Physical Characteristics

Although some of their clock counterparts are brightly colored, the real birds are dull with a grey or brown plumage. As you can see in the cuckoo bird pictures, it has white chest has interesting grey stripes. The rest of the body, including the head, the upper body part, wings and tail is covered with grey plumage. On the other hand, the plumage of the females as well as their babies may sometimes be brown in color.

These birds resemble doves in size with their length measuring between 33 and 38 centimeters. The body of both the males and females is slim with long tails. Their wings are pointed and the bills are curved downwards. Most species of this bird family have short legs. However, the terrestrial species possess comparatively longer legs. Their feathers are extremely soft which can cause trouble when it is raining. Being drenched in rain, they are prevented from flying due to their waterlogged feathers. They can take flight only after the water is dried out.

Interesting Behavioral Features

Some of the behavioral features of this species are similar to those of other birds while others distinguish them from the rest in a very interesting way.

  • The features which are similar to most other members of the bird species include the fact that these are migratory birds. During the cold weather, they fly towards warmer regions of the world.
  • Similarly, like most other birds, cuckoo bird is a diurnal creature, as it is active during the day instead of night. Most of its activities, including searching for food, feeding and mating are carried out at daytime.
  • On the other hand, one of its most interesting behavioral features distinguishing it from other birds is that it does not build its own nest. A female searches for the nests of other birds in order to lay eggs. Usually, robins, meadow pipits, dunnocks or birds of related species play host to their eggs.
  • Its motherly instincts make it find a suitable nest for its own offspring. On the other hand, it is dangerous for the offspring of those unfortunate birds whose nests are used for laying eggs. In order to bring the complete attention of the foster parents to its hatched babies, it drops their eggs down. In this way, it ensures that its babies would not have to compete for attention and food with others.
  • Once its babies are hatched, they are just as cruel as their mother. Although these newly born birds are not strong enough, they muster up all their power to push all the other eggs down the nest in order to ensure the undivided attention of their foster parents.
  • Another one of its distinguishing behavioral traits is that it prefers to exist in solitude. This solitary bird will never be spotted in pairs or flying in groups.

Interesting Cuckoo Facts

Know more about these birds through the following interesting information.

  • This bird belongs to Cuculidae family. Different species have been discovered which belong to subfamilies Phaenicophaeinae and Cuculinae.
  • Only the male birds of Europe produce the specific cuckoo sound they are famous for. The call of the females sounds more like a chuckle. On the other hand, their African counterparts call with a "pooh pooh" sound.
  • The entire European continent houses these birds. The only place they are not found is Iceland.
  • Their grey or brown plumage blends them well with the trees they perch in. It is, therefore, hard to spot them in this camouflaged form.
  • A female lays from twelve to twenty-two eggs. However, each of these eggs is laid in the nest of a different host.
  • Their eggs are covered by hard shells. This protects them from breaking when a female drops them into the nest of another bird. On the other hand, the other eggs present in the nest often break when they are hit by the egg dropped from above.
  • A baby bird can grow larger in size than its foster parents who still continue to feed it till it flies off on its own.
  • A chick uses its call to attract different birds, other than the foster parents, to bring food to it.
  • Interestingly, after hatching, a female remembers the species of bird it was reared by. It then drops its own eggs in the nest of the same species.
  • The eggs are laid in the afternoon instead of morning. This is because during this time, there are high chances that the owners of a nest are absent, out looking for food.
  • Cuculus canorus feeds on insects. But hairy caterpillar is its most favorite food.
  • This is one of the largest families of birds with different species found in almost all parts of the world.
  • Recently, their name has been entered in the list of endangered animals.
  • This medium-sized bird with its pointed wings and a long and slender beak looks like a hawk when it is flying.

Cuckoo Bird Habitat

The habitat of these birds differs for different species. Some of them like to perch high up in trees while some live on the ground. Roadrunner is popular specie which spends its life living on the ground. It possesses long legs for adaptation to this type of lifestyle. Several subspecies live in forests and have even been found in desserts. Wherever they are found, they usually live near a source of water and food as well as a nesting place. This solitary is a brood parasite. It is definitely different from the image created by its lively looking clock version. The only feature common between the two is the sound of their call.

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