Going Cuckoo: A Call For Information!

Posted by Jason Loghry, June 7

A fascinating article with sound-recordings of all four of Korea’s cuculus cuckoo species, images of last week’s mystery cuckoo on Baekryeong, and an extra image of an “orange-headed cuckoo” (photographed by Dr. Choi Soon-Kyu in Taean-Gun in May 2011) – with a call for comments!

As the post-author, Dr. Nial Moores, explains:

“As a group, cuculus cuckoos provide one of the oddest identification challenges. In one way, they are among the easiest of species to identify. They tend to be highly vocal and the males have unique and easily-recognisable “songs”. The females, at least female Common and Lesser Cuckoos, also have distinctive vocalisations. In another way, however, these cuckoos are among the most challenging species to identify…”

Please go to:


And help solve the mystery!

One comment on “Going Cuckoo: A Call For Information!

  1. Received this week (to our bird news email address) a message from Colm Moore in Beijing, who in China has perhaps both heard a similar barking type of cuckoo song and also this year saw a very small cuckoo, with very similar plumage to the orange-headed cuckoos on our website:


    Dear Colleagues,

    I’m writing briefly from Beijing in response to your recent posting about cuckoos.

    Regarding Eurasian Cuckoo, I had wondered for some time whether cryptic physiologically distinct types might be involved as they occupy at my local patch, namely Shahe Shuiku here in Beijing, at least three niches, one being reed-beds, another being wetland waterside scrub and Poplars and the third being forest edges. This ties in with your comment about a suite of species being mooted. Indian Cuckoo here seems to occupy deciduous forest niches.

    I have heard something like your strange-calling bird once many years ago at Beidaihe but could not pin it down.

    Your hepatic putative Lesser Cuckoo photos caused me to leap from my seat, however. On 26th May this year, while birding Shahe I scoped a red-head cuckoo with reddish tinge in the tertials and reddish tinged rump and uppertail. It had a dark eye and yellow eye-ring and because it was alongside a Brown Shrike, it was clearly very very small! I reached for my camera and it froze in mid-click! The bird did not wait for my repair-job to be completed but certainly the white barring on the underparts was clear; growing ever-wider as the white bars approached the vent, they turned into large white blotches on the undertail-coverts. It resembled closely a definite juvenile Lesser Cuckoo I saw here last autumn though the head this time was unbarred orange-rufous.

    On examining the little literature I have, I found there no concrete evidence to support my recent bird being definitely adult Lesser Cuckoo though that is what I felt it was so I reluctantly bracketed the recent bird as uncertain until I saw your recent posting.

    Your photo and the one re-edited into the article could be sisters to my bird apart from blotchier undertail area! So yes, I can support your need to have the matter clarified. What is the range of possible hepaticism, do spring hepatic females bear the same pattern as they did in the previous autumn as brown-headed juveniles?
    I think my only advantage was seeing the bird so close to Lanius cristatus and becoming seriously aware that it was just about that size and no bigger.

    Thank you for all your many articles in recent times. They offer great solace to one groping for real answers to serious ID questions.


    Colm Moore

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