Plaintive Cuckoo

Plaintive Cuckoo    Cacomantis merulinus


  • Cacomantis : Greek word kakosill-boding; mantis prophet . {prophet of evil} .
    These cuckoos were regarded as prophets of doom by the superstitious Javanese because
    they were heard calling from burial grounds at night.
  • Merulinus : Latin word for Blackbird like

Vernacular Names: Ben: Chhota bharau

Distribution in India: Resident of North East India.

Description: Size of 18–23·5 cm; Wt. of 19·5–32 g. The adult male nominate has pale grey head, rest of upperparts and wings are dark grey and slightly glossed, some rufous on wing-coverts, rump and uppertail-coverts are slate-grey, chin to upper breast are grey, rest of underparts are pale rufous-buff, and tail is dark tipped white; eye is brown to red with grey eyering, bill is black with yellowish or orange mandible, and legs and feet are pale yellow to yellow-olive. The female is like male, but abdomen is barred whitish and rectrices are more barred; also occurs in rufous morph, dark rufous above, barred with black, plain dark rufous tail, throat and breast, rest of underparts are dark-barred whitish. The juvenile is variable, Some are all dark grey, finely barred whitish on belly, others rufous with crown light rusty-brown and streaked darker brown, back and wings are barred rusty and dark brown, tail is black with white bars and with or without rufous edge, underparts are black-barred whitish. The races differ mainly in plumage.

Habitat:It is found in woodland, secondary forest, lowland rainforest, freshwater and peat swamp forest, mangroves, teak and rubber, plantations, scrub, brush, gardens and cultivated areas, grassy plains and swamps. It is found from lowlands to 3000 m.

Food habits: It eats Insects, like caterpillars, beetles, bugs, termite soldiers, other soft-bodied insects and fruit. It appears in foliage canopy. It is an active and restless forager.

Breeding habits:  They breed in May–Jun in Kalimantan, Mar–Sept in India, May–Jul in Myanmar. The male courtship-feeds female. They are brood-parasitic: hosts mainly species that build domed nests with narrow entrance, like Ashy Prinia, Hill Prinia Grey-breasted Prinia, Plain Prinia, Common Tailorbird and Zitting Cisticola in Indian Subcontinent. They lay a clutch of eggs variable according to host. They will evict host’s eggs.