Indian Cuckoo & Common Cuckoo: A Comparison

Indian Cuckoo and Common Cuckoo
Comparison of Indian Cuckoo and Common Cuckoo. Cuckoo bottom left is Common; note yellow iris and compare to dark iris of Indian in panel bottom right. Top two panels also Indian. Note thick barring on underparts. All photos taken 17 May at Cape Nanhui, Shanghai. (Craig Brelsford)

by Craig Brelsford
Founder, shanghaibirding.com

One of the many reasons I love spring is that during this time cuckoos call and are easier to identify. On Tues. 17 May at Cape Nanhui, the birding hotspot in Pudong, Kai Pflug and I had two calling cuckoos: Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus and Common Cuckoo C. canorus. I got photos of both. Can you see differences in the appearance of Common and Indian? One is eye color. The other is the thickness of the barring on the underparts. Indian also is smaller than Common, but the size difference is harder to see.

Here is one of the best-known bird calls in the world, that of Common Cuckoo, recorded by me at Cape Nanhui on 17 May (00:31; 2 MB):

For a thorough overview of the cuckoos that migrate through Shanghai, see our post The Cuckoos of Shanghai.

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Craig Brelsford

Craig Brelsford is the founder of shanghaibirding.com. Brelsford lived in Shanghai from 2007 to 2018. Now back home in Florida, Brelsford maintains close ties to the Shanghai birding community and continues his enthusiastic development of this website. When Brelsford departed China, he was the top-ranked eBirder in that country, having noted more than 930 species. Brelsford was also the top-ranked eBirder in Shanghai, with more than 320 species. Brelsford’s photos of birds have won various awards and been published in books and periodicals and on websites all over the world. Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, published in its entirety on this website, is the most Shanghai-centric field guide ever written. Brelsford is a graduate of the University of Florida and earned a master's in business administration at the University of Liege, Belgium.

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