Fun Oriental Cuckoo Facts For Kids

Abhijeet Modi
Feb 21, 2024 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Aug 17, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
One of the interesting Oriental cuckoo facts is that it is secretive in its habits.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.6 Min

The oriental cuckoo is also known as Horsfields cuckoo. Its scientific name was often confused with Cuculus horsfieldi in the past, but its actual scientific name is Cuculus optatus. The range of this species is extremely large and the population trend seems to be stable. They are very quiet and secretive when not in the breeding season due to which it is very difficult to identify their wintering range. Their breeding range lives across northern Eurasia east to northern China, Korea, and Japan. Whereas, their non-breeding range includes Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, New Guinea, and western Micronesia. They also migrate to northern and eastern Australia, Ukraine, Israel, Alaska, and New Zealand. The oriental cuckoo call is similar to that of the hoopoe. The male species are slightly low-pitched in comparison to the female species. It gets tough to spot the oriental cuckoos because they prefer to stay inside the tree foliage. They are brood parasites and lay their eggs in the nests of the Arctic warbler, willow warbler, chiffchaff, belonging to the Phylloscopus genus and the young cuckoos push out the eggs of the host species within a few days. They feed on insects and caterpillars are their favorite food. They look medium-large sized with grey upperparts, dark barring breasts, yellow decurved bill, orange-yellow feet, and a dark grey, long tail, and wings. The Pallid cuckoo, shining cuckoo, common cuckoo, lesser cuckoo, and the Himalayan cuckoo are all very similar to the oriental cuckoo in appearance. Oriental cuckoos easily get mobbed by the other birds.

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

Oriental Cuckoo Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Oriental cuckoo?

It is a type of bird that is also known to be a brood parasite because it lays its eggs in other birds' nests.

What class of animal does an Oriental cuckoo belong to?

The oriental cuckoo (cuculus optatus) belongs to the Aves class that includes all birds.

How many Oriental cuckoos are there in the world?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), its population size is 5000000-14999999.

Where does an Oriental cuckoo live?

There are two types of oriental cuckoo range. The breeding range lives across northern Eurasia east to northern China, Korea, and Japan. Whereas, the non-breeding range includes Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, New Guinea, and western Micronesia. They also migrate to northern and eastern Australia, Ukraine, Israel, Alaska, and New Zealand.

What is an Oriental cuckoo's habitat?

Their habitat is predominated by the open forests, farmlands, suburban gardens, and mixed woodlands.

Who do Oriental cuckoos live with?

These species are primarily solitary and they only tend to be in pairs during the breeding season.

How long does an Oriental cuckoo live?

The average lifespan of a cuckoo is four years. However, the lifespan of these species has not been recorded yet.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of the oriental cuckoo (cuculus optatus) starts from March till August, like the small warblers. They are brooding parasites and choose to lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, like the Arctic warbler, willow warbler, eastern crowd warbler, olive-backed pipit, Asian stubtail, and chiffchaff. The female species usually lay one to two eggs per nest and the host incubates them for 12 days. The eggs are smooth and they vary from reddish-brown to buff, white to bluish-white with brown markings. After hatching, the young cuckoo is born naked with an orange gape and black patches. The older cuckoo has blackish feathers and white fringes with a dark belly and white bands.  It usually pushes out the eggs of the host within a few days and flies out of the nest after 17-19 days of the hatching.

What is their conservation status?

According to The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the oriental cuckoos are of the Least Concern.

Oriental Cuckoo Fun Facts

What do Oriental cuckoos look like?

Oriental cuckoos are grey, slender, and medium-sized cuckoos, similar to the shape of a small falcon and a blackbird. The adult male has a dark grey head, neck, upper breasts and a creamy-white belly with dark bars. However, adult females occur in two morphs. The grey morph is very similar to the adult male species, but the rufous morph is dark brown with a pale upper body but no dark bars. One thing common in all the forms is the white underparts but the plumage always varies.

The main identification mark of the oriental cuckoo is a dark grey head and heavily-barred breasts with a creamy-white belly.

How cute are they?

Because of their dark grey color and the inconsistent coloring throughout their body, these species are generally not considered as cute.

How do they communicate?

Not much is known about the communication between the species but they are generally silent. When they do speak, the sound occurs at one-second intervals. The voice of the male is lower than that of the female. They can be best identified when singing a song.

How big is an Oriental cuckoo?

Its average length ranges between 11.9-12.6 in (30-32 cm) with a wingspan of 20.07-22.4 in (51-57 cm). It is almost the same size as the black-billed cuckoo.

How fast can an Oriental cuckoo fly?

There is insufficient data regarding their flying speed but these species are known to fly very low to the ground and they also hold their wings low while flying.

How much does an Oriental cuckoo weigh?

They are very light-weighted, ranging between 0.16-0.34 lb (73-156 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

They do not have any sex-specific names. They are simply referred to as male oriental cuckoo and female oriental cuckoo.

What would you call a baby Oriental cuckoo?

There is no specific name for a baby oriental cuckoo. They are just known to the people as eggs.

What do they eat?

They are carnivores and eat insects and their larvae, especially the caterpillars.

Are they dangerous?

These species are wild animals and are hence considered extremely dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they would not make a good pet. It is illegal to keep them as a pet in most of the world.

Did you know...

The oriental cuckoo was previously considered the subspecies of the Himalayan cuckoo (cuculus saturatus) but due to the difference in their size and voice, the oriental cuckoo is now treated as a different species.

What is the call of the Oriental cuckoo?

These species make a very low sound, which is identified by a series of "boop-boop", "do-do-do-do", and "hoop-hoop" notes. They are usually silent when not in their breeding range.

Oriental cuckoo vs. common cuckoo

The oriental cuckoo and common cuckoo are very similar species in their appearance and hence it is very difficult to distinguish between the two species. The common cuckoo birds are a little bulkier and they have longer wings and tails but a smaller head and bill in comparison to the oriental cuckoo birds. One other difference between the two otherwise considered to be similar species is that the common cuckoo is more widespread and known to the people.

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 bowerbird facts and hummingbird facts pages.

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

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Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

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Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

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