Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo   Hierococcyx nisicolor


  • Hierococcyx : Greek Word  –hierax- hawk ;  kokkux –cuckoo.
  • Nisicolor : Latin word nisus  sparrowhawk  (Greek mythology of  Nisus, king of Megara metamorphosed into a hawk) ; latin word  color for coloris

 Distribution in India: Resident of Eastern Himalayas and hills of North East India.

Description:  Size 28–30 cm; 69·2–93 g. It is a smallish hawk-cuckoo. The  adult has crown and nape grey-black, mantle is brownish black, back and rump are dark grey. It has as  grey tail with four black bands, the penultimate narrow and the terminal band broad and rufous-tipped. It has a dark grey chin, face and neck-sides, white throat to upper breast are streaked dark grey, white breast to belly and flanks with variable dark grey or brown streaking and pinkish-rufous suffusion, and undertail-coverts are white. the underwing-coverts are buffish, sometimes barred brown, and remiges broadly barred. The iris is brown with yellow eyering, bill is black with mandible and tip is green, and legs and feet are yellow. The juvenile has crown and nape as blackish brown with buff fringes, rest of upperparts are mostly brown with whitish tips, and white spots on nape or neck-sides in some. The tail has broader rufous tips, extreme tip buffy white, remiges are dark brown barred rufous and white. The throat to upper breast are dark brown fringed buff white, lower breast to belly is  creamy white spotted brown, streaked on lower flanks, and undertail-coverts are white. The subadult has back and wings barred rufous, some rufous in tail, rufous throat with white spots and brown streaks, with rest of underparts are white, streaked brown and rufous on breast and belly, and has buffy notches and bars on remiges..

Habitat: It is found in breeding season  in deciduous semi-evergreen, evergreen and secondary forests, as well as pines in damp ravines, bamboo thickets, and plantations . In winter it is found in various forest types and migrants are even recorded in wooded suburban gardens. Breeding birds mainly found above 500 m -2300 m.

Food Habits: It eats Insects, mainly caterpillars, but also cicadas, beetles, small butterflies and locusts, fruits and berries. It forages in low trees and bushes.

Breeding Habits: They breed in May-Sept. They are brood-parasitic. The hosts are Lesser Shortwing (Brachypteryx leucophris), Small Niltava (Niltava macgrigoriae) and other flycatchers, Rufous-fronted Babbler (Cyanoderma rufifrons), Nepal Fulvetta (Alcippe nipalensis) ,Buff-breasted Babbler (Trichastoma tickelli, Blue-throated Blue-flycatcher (Cyornis rubeculoides),  White-browed Fantail (Rhipidura aureola), Asian Verditer-flycatcher (Eumyias thalassinus), Spotted Forktail (Enicurus maculatus), Plumbeous Water-redstart (Phoenicurus fuliginosus), Eyebrowed Wren-babbler (Napothera epilepidota), Yellow-throated Fulvetta (Schoeniparus cinereus), Grey-headed Parrotbill (Psittiparus gularis).