Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus
aka Eurasian Cuckoo Appearance
Common (Eurasian) Cuckoos are medium sized birds, 13" (33cm).
The male Common Cuckoo has slate-grey upper parts and head. Its chest is paler, below which, it is barred white and black. It is extremely similar to the African Cuckoo. The only differences being the male Common Cuckoo has less yellow at the base of the bill, spots (instead of stripes) at the base of its tail - and different calls.
The female Common Cuckoo is dimorphic (two genetically generated colours in the same species). The hepatic morph is rufus above, white below and barred throughout. The normal morph is greyish-brown above, white below and barred throughout.
Both morphs have rufus in the sides of their breasts. Habits
The Common Cuckoo is usually seen alone, except when migrating, when they form loose flocks. Diet
The Common Cuckoo's favourite food is hairy caterpillars. They also take grasshoppers, flies, beetles and small snails. Resident
The Common Cuckoo has had studies conducted by the BTO
, finding that 'British Cuckoos' spend nearly half their time in DRC, leaving UK by end-June and arriving back again at end-Apr. They spend over a third of their time en-route.
Birding books suggest that the Common Cuckoo is resident in Kenya from Oct-Dec and more common in Mar-Apr. It is therefore realistic to assume that Common Cuckoos seen in Kenya visit other European countries during Spring. Extra Facts
The Common Cuckoo only visits northern parts during Spring, to lay eggs in other birds nests. Known as a 'brood parasite'. While the resident bird is off its nest (often frightened away, by Hawk-like swoops by the Cuckoo), the Common Cuckoo dislodges an egg and replaces it with one of her own. She will closely resemble the colour and markings of the resident bird's egg. The Cuckoo manages to acomplish this feat within seconds and will visit up to 50 other bird's nests, doing the self-same thing. Typically, she picks on pipits, warblers, dunnocks and robins to host her eggs. Photographs
Photographed in Kenya's Olare Orok Conservancy.