Männchen im Flug CC BY-SA 3.0 Jürgen Schmidt (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuckuck#/media/Datei:Kuckuck_im_Flug_v._J._Schmidt.jpg)

Common cuckoo


With a wingspan of 55 to 60 centimeters and a body length of 32 to 34 centimeters, the common cuckoo is almost as large as a turtle dove, but more delicate and slender. The weight of the male is 110-140 grams, the female 95-115 grams. The wings are pointed and the rounded tail is 13-15 centimeters long. In flight, the species looks similar to a sparrowhawk, but has more pointed wing tips. When sitting, the common cuckoo appears short-legged. The stepped tail is not infrequently fanned and slightly raised, and the wings are often left hanging somewhat splayed.

Adult males are slate gray on the upperparts. The uppertail coverts have light gray, very thin, narrow terminal seams. The chin, throat, sides of the neck, and forechest are uniformly light gray and lighter than the upperparts; the rest of the underparts are white with broad grayish-brown banding. The undertail coverts are white to isabelline. The tail is dark slate gray with a distinct white terminal fringe. The iris, eyelid ring, and beak base are pale yellow.

Adult females appear in two colour morphs. The gray morph closely resembles males, but shows a rusty beige to yellowish tint on the breast and a thin dark cross banding. The brown morph is rarer and is rusty brown on the upperparts and breast. The entire plumage is dark cross banded. The tail is brown and dark banded with a thin white terminal band. The iris, eyelid ring, and beak base are light brown.

The juvenile birds are slate gray, sometimes with a rusty brown tinge. The entire plumage is thinly dark cross-banded. The small and large wing coverts have narrow white fringes. The iris is dark brown, the eyelid ring is pale yellow, and the base of the bill is pale. Juvenile birds can be identified by the white patch on the nape.

In both morphs and in juvenile plumage, the legs are yellow and the beak is horn-gray except for the base.


It inhabits cultivated landscapes as well as biotopes above the tree line, the dunes of the sea coasts and almost all habitats in between: sparse deciduous and coniferous forests, swamp forests or even upland moors and steppes. It does not occur in the Arctic tundra and in extensive dense forests. The occurrence of the birds that serve as hosts for it during reproduction is crucial. In its habitat there must be sufficient small structures such as shrubs, hedges, scattered trees and perching opportunities. It is also found in the outskirts of cities.

The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuckuck). On wikipedia the text is available under a „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“ licence. Status: 17 December 2021