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Cuculus
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Male Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Otidae
Clade: Otidimorphae
Order: Cuculiformes
Family: Cuculidae
Subfamily: Cuculinae
Tribe: Cuculini
Genus: Cuculus
Linnaeus, 1758

Cuculus is a genus of cuckoos which has representatives in most of the Old World, although the greatest diversity is in tropical southern and southeastern Asia. The species in taxonomic order are:

Now in Cacomantis

Now in Hierococcyx

The hawk-cuckoos are sometimes placed in a separate genus, Hierococcyx, while the Pallid Cuckoo may belong in Cacomantis.

These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Most occur in open forests, but some prefer more open country. Several species are migratory.

These are vocal species, with persistent and loud calls. They feed on large insects, with hairy caterpillars, which are distasteful to many birds, being a speciality. One or two species will also take some fruit.

Cuculus cuckoos are brood parasites, that is, they lay a single egg in the nests of various passerine hosts. The best-known example is the European Common Cuckoo. The female cuckoo in each case replaces one of the host’s eggs with one of her own. The cuckoo egg hatches earlier than the host’s, and the chick grows faster; in most cases the cuckoo chick evicts the eggs or young of the host species.

Cuculus species lay coloured eggs to match those of their passerine hosts. Female cuckoos specialise in a particular host species (generally the species that raised them) and lay eggs that closely resemble the eggs of that host.

A species may consist of several gentes, with each gens specialising in a particular host. There is some evidence that the gentes are genetically different from one another[citation needed] though other authorities state that as female cuckoos mate with males of any gens, genes flow between gentes.

References



Eurasian Spoonbill This article is part of Project Bird Genera, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each genus, including made-up genera.
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