Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Cuckoo
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Cuckoo

Cuckoos
Great Spotted Cuckoo
(adult; juvenile)
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Cuculiformes
Family:Cuculidae
The Cuculidae or cuckoos are an order of near passerine birds, many of which are brood parasites in the nests of birds of other species.

The best-known example is the European Common Cuckoo. The baby which hatches from the egg laid in another species' nest methodically evicts all other occupants.

The family also includes the roadrunners, the anis, and the coucals. The coucals are not nest parasites and, unlike many cuckoos, lay their eggs on the ground. These large tropical cuckoos are capable of taking vertebrate prey such as lizards.

The Cuculiformes order, in addition to the cuckoos, also includes the turacos (perhaps better considered as a separate order, Musophagiformes) and the unique Hoatzin, which was previously classified in the Galliformes. The taxonomy of the latter enigmatic species, however, remains in dispute.

These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. Most occur in forests, but some are birds of more open country. Most are insect eaters, with hairy caterpillars, which are avoided by many birds, being a speciality.

The group gets its English and scientific names from the call of the Common Cuckoo, which is also familar from cuckoo clocks.

Species are: