1106. Cuculus poliocephalus

1106. Cuculus poliocephalus.

The Small Cuckoo.

? Cuculus intermedius, Vahl, Skriv. Nat. Selsk. iv, p. 58 (1789). Cuculus poliocephalus, Latham, Ind. Orn. i, p. 214 (1790); Blyth, Cat. p. 71 ; Horsf. & M. Cat. ii, p. 704; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 324; id. Ibis, 1872, p. 13; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 23; Bulger, Ibis, 1860, p. 157; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xliii, pt. 2, p. 156: Fairbank, S. F. iv, p. 255; Davidson & Wend. S. F. vii, p. 78 ; Hume Cat. no. 201: id. S. F. xi, p. 71; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 231; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 54; Davidson, S. F. x, p. 299; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 124 ; Oates, Ibis, 1889, p. 357 ; id. in Humes N.& E. 2nd ed. ii, p. 382; Shelley, Cat. B. M. xix, p. 255. Cuculus bartletti, Layard, A. M. N. H. (2) xiii, p.452 (1854).

Dang-hlem, Lepcha; Pichu-giapo, Bhotia.

Adults similar to C. canorus, but much smaller, with the lower plumage, and especially the lower tail-coverts, tinged with buff, and with broader black bars on the breast.

The young pass through three stages before arriving at maturity. The first resembles the corresponding plumage of C. saturatus, and at this period the two can only be distinguished by size. The second stage resembles the first of C. canorus in many respects. The white margins on the upper plumage are reduced, a white nuchal spot and sometimes a half-collar are assumed, and the chin and throat are partially cross-barred with white and tinged with dark rufous.

In the third stage the upper parts, wings, and tail are bright chestnut barred with black; the black bars in the older birds disappear on the neck, rump, and upper tail-coverts, and nearly so on the head; the lower plumage is very regularly barred with black, and the throat and breast are tinged with chestnut; there is no nuchal patch nor collar.

Prom this stage the adult plumage is assumed gradually, ashy patches appearing on the upper parts and the rufous bars disappearing on the wing and tail. The throat and breast at the same time turn ashy.

Bill blackish, base of lower mandible, gape, and eyelid yellow ; iris brown ; feet yellow (Legge).

Length about 10; tail 4.9 to 5.4 ; wing 5.7 to 6.1; tarsus 0.68; bill from gape .95.

Distribution. Throughout the Himalayas from April till October, and farther north in China and Japan. In the cold season this Cuckoo is found in various parts of the Indian Peninsula and Ceylon, also in the Malay Peninsula, Java, and Borneo. It occurs in the hills south of the Assam valley, but has not been recorded from Burma. It also inhabits Madagascar and Africa south of 6° N. lat.

Habits, &c. This species begins to breed even later than C. saturatus, being rarely heard at Darjiling, according to Jerdon, " before the end of May and continuing till the middle of July. It is a very noisy bird and has a loud peculiar unmusical call of several syllables, which it frequently utters. The Bhotias attempt to imitate this in their name for the species." The eggs are not known with certainty.

* Davison (S. F. x, p. 359), states that it occurs in the Wynaad, but I have elsewhere (P. Z. S. 1893, p. 318) shown that there must, I think, have been a mistake.

The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma
Blanford, William Thomas, ed. The Fauna of British India: Including Ceylon and Burma. Vol.3 1895.
Title in Book: 
1106. Cuculus poliocephalus
Book Author: 
William Thomas Blanford
Page No: 
Common name: 
Small Cuckoo
Lesser Cuckoo
Cuculus poliocephalus
Vol. 3

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