Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculatus is resident on Hainan, in southeast Tibet, and in Yunnan. Breeds Sichuan, Hubei, and Guizhou. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Upper canopy in lowland evergreen forests. More often heard than seen. ID & COMPARISON Small, strikingly beautiful cuckoo. Male upperparts iridescent emerald-green, tinged gold. Throat and upper breast also emerald-green. Lower breast and belly white, banded green to vent. Undertail black with white spots. Female has rufous crown and nape. Dark, bronze-green bands cover entire underparts, including throat. Sometimes also has rufous wash on face, throat and breast. Wings and mantle green. Female Violet Cuckoo C. xanthorhynchus has bronze-brown upperparts. Juvenile like female but has bars on head and rufous fringes to wings. Also may have rufous wash on throat and upper breast, unlike juvenile Violet Cuckoo, which is more rufous above. BARE PARTS Bill yellow with black tip; feet dark. Orange eye-ring in male; eye-ring yellow and less obvious in female. VOICE Call a shrill, descending twitter. — Craig Brelsford
RESOURCES ON CUCKOOS
The Cuckoos of Shanghai: Craig Brelsford examines the Shanghai-area parasitic cuckoos and teaches you how to tell them apart. The non-Cuculus parasitic cuckoo that one is most likely to see in Shanghai is Large Hawk-Cuckoo. Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo, Asian Koel, and Chestnut-winged Cuckoo also are occasionally noted.
Indian Cuckoo & Common Cuckoo: A Comparison: Note the smaller size of Indian Cuckoo, its thicker barring, and its darker iris. Voice as always is the surest differentiator. Both Indian Cuckoo and Common Cuckoo occur on passage in Shanghai and breed in the region.
Why This Cuckoo Is Lesser Cuckoo: The Cuculus I saw at Shanghai’s Cape Nanhui in September had the dark eye, well-defined and widely spaced barring, and small size suggestive of Lesser Cuckoo. See my photos of the thrush-sized cuckoo.
My Exchange with a Reader About Cuculus Cuckoos: “Draw a circle around the five [Cuculus] cuckoos [of China],” Craig Brelsford instructs a shanghaibirding.com reader. “Within that circle, draw three circles: one around Indian, one around Lesser, and one around Common, Himalayan, and Oriental.” Using this method, one quickly clusters the three main groups of Cuculus in China.
THE CUCKOOS OF CHINA
shanghaibirding.com covers every species in the order Cuculiformes in China. Click any link below:
Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
Lesser Coucal C. bengalensis
Green-billed Malkoha Phaenicophaeus tristis
Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus
Jacobin Cuckoo C. jacobinus
Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus
Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculatus
Violet Cuckoo C. xanthorhynchus
Banded Bay Cuckoo Cacomantis sonneratii
Plaintive Cuckoo C. merulinus
Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris
Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides
Common Hawk-Cuckoo H. varius
Rufous Hawk-Cuckoo H. hyperythrus
Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo H. nisicolor
Lesser Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus
Indian Cuckoo C. micropterus
Himalayan Cuckoo C. saturatus
Oriental Cuckoo C. optatus
Common Cuckoo C. canorus
Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.