Indian Cuckoo & Common Cuckoo: A Comparison

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

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 all the cuckoos that pass through Shanghai on migration, see our post The Cuckoos of Shanghai.

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Craig Brelsford

Craig Brelsford is the founder of Brelsford lived in Shanghai from 2007 to 2018. When he left China, Brelsford was the top-ranked eBirder in China (930+ species) and Shanghai (320+ species). Now back home in Florida, Brelsford maintains close ties to the Shanghai birding community and continues to make better than ever. 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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