Appearance There are 14 species of Cuckoo found in Kenya. These birds share their family name (Cuculidae) with Coucals, like the White-browed Coucal. The Cuckoos vary in size from Klaas's Cuckoo at 6" (15cm) up to the Great Spotted Cuckoo at 16" (41cm). A group of long-winged, long, graduated tailed birds with zygodactyl toes (two at the front and two at the back). Bills are often stout and decurved.
Habits Cuckoos are polymorphic (laying an egg in 15 - 20 other birds nests), each species selecting a specific host or hosts. The eggs are coloured and marked to resemble the host bird's eggs, they are just a different size. When the Cuckoo chick is born, it evicts the eggs or chicks of the host bird and is raised by the host bird.
Diet Most Cuckoos are aboreal birds, eating grubs and insects. Their favourite food is hairy caterpillars.
Resident Some Cuckoos are seen all over Kenya, others in 'pockets', depending on where their host-specific brood parasites live. The most popular areas are central, west and southern Kenya.
Extra Cuckoo Facts Cuckoos are generally shy, quiet birds, except for males at breeding time, when they have distinctive calls.
Photographs Photographed at Kenya's Olare Orok Conservancy.