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Great spotted cuckoo

Clamator glandarius
Photo by Stephen Daly (Andalucian Guides)

Common name:

great spotted cuckoo (en); cuco-rabilongo (pt); coucou geai (fr); críalo europeo (es); häherkuckuck (de)

Order Cuculiformes
Family Cuculidae

These birds are found from southern Europe and the Middle East to Iran, and throughout Mediterranean Africa down to Senegal, Sudan and Somalia and further south along eastern Africa down to South Africa. The more northern population migrate south for the winter.

The great spotted cuckoo is 35-39 cm long and has a wingspan of 58-66 cm. They weigh 140-170 g.

They are mostly found in savannas and open woodlands, in semi-arid areas, rocky hillsides or dry cultivations.

Great spotted cuckoos are mostly insectivorous, taking caterpillars, ants, beetles, dragonflies, damselflies, termite alates and grasshoppers. They can also eat small lizards.

This species can breed all year round, with the breeding season varying between different parts of its range. These birds are brood parasites, meaning that they lays their eggs in the nests of other birds, namely crows, magpies and starlings. The female waits until the potential host has left the nest, then inspects it to see if it is suitable. If it is, she lays 1-4 eggs, laying up to 6 eggs per day and up to 23 in one breeding season. The incubation period is about 12-15 days, being shorter than that of the host. The chicks are fed by their host parents, but unlike some cuckoos they do not always kill their “siblings”, but these often die because they cannot compete successfully with the young cuckoos for food. The chicks fledge 22-29 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population of 500.000-5.000.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.
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