1452. Cuculus canorus telephonus

(1452) Cuculus canorus telephonus Heine.
THE ASIATIC CUCKOO.
Cuculus canorus telephonus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iv, p. 136.
Within Indian limits the Asiatic Cuckoo breeds over the whole of the North-Western Himalayas from Afghanistan and Baluchistan, through Nepal, Sikkim and Tibet to the Northern Chinese hills. It probably also breeds throughout the greater part of Central Asia and West Siberia from the Yenesei to Kamschatka.
It is also very likely that it sometimes breeds in the hill-ranges of Southern India, as the male has been beard calling in May and June, too late, one would think, for the caller to be a bird on the move.
Betham found it breeding in the broken country round Mhow, Blanford and others found it during April, May and June between Chota Nagpur and the Godavery : McMaster observed it near Sangur, Khamptee and Chikalda and, finally, Butler believed it bred on Mt. Aboo. Except at Mhow, this Cuckoo has not been proved to breed at any of the above places, so it is quite possible that the males calling were unmated birds or very late migrants.
In the Himalayas it breeds between 7,000 and 12,000 feet in considerable numbers from the end of May to the middle of July, while I have one or two eggs taken at heights nearly 2,000 feet higher still. In different places different fosterers seem to be employed for the purpose of bringing up the young. Bound about the Murree Hills, Mussoorie and Kuman the favourites are the Bush chats, Larvivora brunnea and Trochalopterum lineatum, a beauti¬ful blue egg of the Cuckoo having been evolved to go with their eggs. In Mussoorie the Shrike, Lanius erythronotus, is another bird con¬stantly cuckolded, and here also evolution has produced an egg to match, and I have several times had clutches of this bird’s eggs sent me with unrecognized Cuckoo’s eggs among them. Forktails, Larks, Pipits etc. are also constantly cuckolded, while on the Baluchistan and Afghan frontiers Whitehead took eggs from the nests of Ruby-throats, these eggs also approaching those of the fosterer in colour. Altogether I have known of over fifty species of birds being cuckolded by this Cuckoo, but many of these are undoubtedly chance fosterers, only, the cuckoo’s eggs agreeing in no single character with those of the foster parent. Rattray, Buchanan and others have sometimes found the eggs of this bird in the nests of some of the small Flycatchers and Warblers in holes so small that the bird, if ever hatched, must eventually have died of suffocation. It was obvious also that in many cases the egg could not possibly have been laid direct into the nest.
It is impossible to describe the colours of the eggs of this Cuckoo in detail. A few eggs are rather like those of the English Cuckoo, of the normal inconspicuous grey or grey-brown mottled type, which agree fairly well with any one of the eggs of Pipits, Wagtails or Reed-Warblers ; others are much more reddish than are those of the English or European race, while many are as blue as the eggs of the Scandinavian birds which lay in the nests of Redstarts, Wheatears etc. They are larger eggs than those of the European bird but similar in shape and texture and, like nearly all Cuckoos’ eggs, heavier, comparatively, than those of the foster parent. The texture is also more “gritty ” than it is in other birds’ eggs and, when one has pierced a few of them with needle or pin, it is impossible to mistake the feeling as it goes in. The yolk is nearly always a pale yellow and often slightly phosphorescent in the dark.
The measurements of one hundred eggs taken at hazard from a huge series average 23.0 x 18.1 mm.
In their love affairs both sexes seem to be indiscriminate and, where they arc numerous, no definite pairing takes place. On the other hand, where they arc uncommon a male and female may no doubt remain in company so long as it suits them.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 3. 1934.
Title in Book: 
1452. Cuculus canorus telephonus
Spp Author: 
Heine.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
1452
Year: 
1934
Page No: 
341
Common name: 
Asiatic Cuckoo
M_ID: 
6241
M_SN: 
Cuculus canorus subtelephonus
Volume: 
Vol. 3
Term name: 
id: 
14569

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