Fun Cuckoo Facts For Kids

Oluwatosin Michael
Jan 03, 2023 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Cuckoo facts state that they can be brood parasitic in nature.

The cuckoo is one of the many bird species of the Cuculidae family and order Cuculiformes. The name designates about 60 arboreal members of the Phaenicophaeinae and Cuculinae subfamilies.

In western Europe, the word ‘cuckoo’ refers to their common local form that is known elsewhere as the European or the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus). Several cuckoos have specialized names like ani, guira, coucal, couas, and roadrunner.

Bird species from the Neomorphinae subfamily are known as ground cuckoo. These birds are known for their brood parasitic behavior where female cuckoo birds lay their eggs in nests of other birds.

The cuckoo species can be found all over the world, especially in tropical and temperate regions. However, they are most diverse in the tropic regions of the Old World.

Cuculids are shy birds living in thick vegetation that are heard more often than they are seen. Some of the species are named as such because of the sound they make like the cuckoo itself.

For more relatable content, check out these black-billed cuckoo facts and hooded crow facts for kids.

Cuckoo Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a cuckoo?

The cuckoo is a medium-sized bird species from the Cuculidae family and order Cuculiformes which includes the roadrunner, the European cuckoo, and several other genera of slender birds. Found all over the world, this species is mostly tree-dwelling. However, some species, like the roadrunner, spend most of their time on the land.

What class of animal does a cuckoo belong to?

Cuckoo belongs to the class of Aves.

How many cuckoos are there in the world?

It is estimated that there are somewhere between 25-100 million cuckoo birds all over the world.

Where does a cuckoo live?

A cuckoo bird can be found in almost any place that has trees. Mainly, they inhabit coniferous and deciduous forests, meadows, woodland areas, lowlands, moorlands, wooded steppe, and scrubs.

That is also the reason why they are distributed all over the world, except in Antarctica. They also stay away from very cold or dry areas such as northern areas of North America, Australia, the Middle East, and dry parts of Africa.

What is a cuckoo's habitat?

A cuckoo’s habitat is anywhere that has trees.

Who do cuckoos live with?

For most parts, cuckoos are solitary birds that occur in groups or pairs in rare cases.

How long does a cuckoo live?

The lifespan of a cuckoo bird is five years.

How do they reproduce?

Cuckoo is an extremely diverse species of birds, especially in terms of breeding systems. Most of the species are monogamous in nature, however, there are some exceptions.

The guira and the anis cuckoo lay their eggs in a communal nest built by all the group members. Brooding, territorial defense, and incubation duties are shared by every member of the group. The anis are the one that breeds as a monogamous pair.

The guira cuckoos, on the other hand, are not monogamous and exhibit a polygynandrous breeding system. Also, their group nesting is not totally cooperative.

Females often have to compete and remove other’s eggs. The eggs of the anis female cuckoo species are elected early during the breeding season whereas the guira can eject their eggs at any time. In the African black coucal, polyandry has been confirmed.

It is also suspected to be in other coucals. If this is true, it might explain the reverse sexual dimorphism in the species.

Most of the cuckoo species including coucals, couas, malkohas, roadrunners, and other American cuckoos have to build their own nests. There is a small minority of the species that participate in blood parasitism.

Most species nest in bushes or trees, but coucals make their nests in low shrubs or on the grounds and start laying their eggs in them. Even though non-parasitic cuckoos might also parasitize other species on some occasions, the male and female species still help in feeding the young.

What is their conservation status?

According to IUCN, the cuckoo species’ conservation status is Least Concern.

Cuckoo Fun Facts

What do cuckoos look like?

The cuckoo is a medium-sized bird that is slim and long. It has curved bills, pointed wings, and a long tail. The male species are usually glistening black and have crimson eyes and yellowish-green beak.

They have long tails and short wings. The female cuckoo species are dark brown in color and are profusely barred and spotted with white. They also have red eyes and green beaks. There is a clear distinction in appearance between males and females.

They have a slightly white and dark gray in color. Their bill is pale green and the crown is dark brown. Also, females of the cuckoo species are slightly smaller than males.


How cute are they?

Even though not as pretty as some other bird species, cuckoo birds do have a cute face.

How do they communicate?

Cuckoo birds are known for their songs and diverse call. These are secretive and deceptive birds and having such a variety of songs and call helps them in communicating with other birds from their species.

They are known to use their call for announcing dominion over territory or attracting a mate.

Within the cuckoo species, such call is highly consistent, even over a large geographical range. Since many species of cuckoo are raised communally, it suggests that their calls are innate to the species and not something young birds learn from their parents.

How big is a cuckoo?

Cuckoo birds are medium-sized that range from the 6 in (15.2 cm) long little bronze cuckoo or the 25 in (63.5 cm) long Channel-billed cuckoo. The yellow-billed cuckoo are 10-12 in (25.4-30.5 cm) long. Cuckoos are bigger than Gouldian finch.

How fast can a cuckoo fly?

A cuckoo bird from the family Cuculidae can reach the speed of about 18.6 mph (30 kph) while chasing its prey.

How much does a cuckoo weigh?

A cuckoo weight differs on the basis of the species. Here are a few examples below.

Common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus): 0.2 lb (110 g)

Greater roadrunner: 0.6 lb (280 g)

Groove-billed ani: 0.1 lb (82 g)

Smooth-billed ani: 0.2 lb (110 g)

White-browed coucal: 0.3 lb (150 g)

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no separate names for the female and male of the species

What would you call a baby cuckoo?

There is no specific name for a baby cuckoo.

What do they eat?

When it comes to eating, cuckoo birds prefer a decent amount of variation. However, most of them are insectivores. Caterpillar is their favorite food. They eat a number of other species that are mostly avoided by other birds. Some cuckoo species eat snakes, lizards, small rodents, fruit, and other birds.

Are they dangerous?

Cuckoo birds are considered to be a particularly dangerous bird species. Known as a brood parasite, cuckoos rely on others for raising their young.

While it might not sound too dangerous on its own, the way they do this is nothing less than vicious. The female cuckoo can even kill to ensure that their eggs survive.

They are like viruses, bacteria, or diseases in a way that they aim to reduce their host’s breeding success by laying their egg in their nest. In case, the host does not accept the egg of the cuckoo, the latter with destroy the former's clutch completely.

Would they make a good pet?

Cuckoo birds are considered to be wild animals and, therefore, don’t make good pets. In fact, in many places, it is illegal to have a cuckoo bird as a pet.

Did you know...

Most of the cuckoo species are monogamous in nature. However, there are some exceptions to this rule that demonstrates that parasitism is not the only interesting behavior within the cuckoo species.

There are some cuckoo species such as the guira cuckoo and the anis cuckoo that use the communal nests for laying their egg. All group members help in building the large nests and then, the nests are used for rearing their young.

However, just like most communal situations, this system is not perfect either. There is a lot of competition among females who might even remove eggs of other birds from the nest and lay their own.

What is special about a cuckoo?

The cuckoo bird lays its eggs in the nests of other birds who has built the nest, as they are very lazy to make a nest of their own. The bird then sits on the eggs in the nests until they are hatched.

Then, they spend their life to look for food and bring it back to the nest for feeding the cuckoo babies.

How to pronounce cuckoo?

If you want to pronounce ‘cuckoo’ the right way, you have to start by breaking down the word into sounds: [kuuk] + [oo]. Say the words out loud and keep exaggerating the sound until you can produce them consistently.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these secretary bird facts and house finch facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable cuckoo coloring pages.

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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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