ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Life of the Common Cuckoo

Updated on December 8, 2018

The common cuckoo is scientifically called Cuculus canorus, and it's a latin term where cuculus means 'cuckoo' and canorus means 'to sing'. The common cuckoo is a member of the cuckoo birds (family - Cuculidae) of the order Cuculiformes, and includes the anis, coucals and roadrunners in that order. This bird is the only cuckoo bird renowned for its calling 'cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo', the rest of them have different calling tones and some of them are too loud. Unfortunately, the cuckoo's population as a whole has decreased over the last 60 years, and ornithologists believe it may be due to the loss of habitat and environmental change in the Earth. But this is not a major worry for experts because they believe the common cuckoo is present worldwide and not always monitored, so therefore it is not a concern for extinction.

Common Cuckoo Chick in the Pipit's Nest (public domain worldwide) (public domain worldwide) | Source

In Europe and Asia, the common cuckoo comes to visit in the summer season from Africa in the springtime. In Africa, the cuckoo likes to dwell in the winter season. After the summer visit they return to Africa between July and August just before the autumn season. The common cuckoo is infamous for using other bird's nests to lay its own eggs, so the bird is regarded as a brood parasite. The common cuckoo is an insectivore, in other words, an insectivorous bird which enjoys eating various types of caterpillars, and even the unpleasant ones which are mostly avoided by other species of birds. One example are the hairy caterpillars which the common cuckoos take pleasure in eating and other birds don't. Surprisingly enough, the common cuckoos will also eat crickets, dragonflies and beetles.

Reed Warbler Feeding a Baby Common Cuckoo. What an utter confusion! | Source

In May, the beginning of summer, while the male cuckoos are displaying, the female ones fly around a chosen territory searching for a nest of other birds to take advantage of. What they actually do is, they eventually select nests that are already occupied by a pair of birds from a different species. The bird nests they take advantage of are the ones built by the dunnock, pipit or the reed warbler birds.

Next, the female common cuckoos remove an egg from their chosen nests, then they lay single eggs of their own. Most female common cuckoos may lay as much as twelve eggs, all in different nests, and often the eggs laid will nearly be identical to those already present. Once their eggs hatches, the young cuckoos will push the unfamiliar original eggs of other bird species out of the nest and have the right to all the food which were provided by the parents of other birds, and these birds do not suspect a thing on what's going on in their rightful nests.

Listen to the Charming Cuckoo

In general, these brood parasites are almost the same size as doves. The typical size of the adult common cuckoo is between 32 to 36 centimeters in length and wingspan of 56 to 58 centimeters. They can be spotted with ease and can be identified immediately due to their characteristic features. The first main feature is the characteristic 'cuckoo' call where everyone can acknowledge it's some kind of cuckoo bird. The common cuckoo will have grey colored upper parts including the head and chest with light greyish underparts barred with dark grey. Their wings are shaped like a scythe and have rapid beats, but their flight in the air is distinctively low and swift when taking off from the ground. Their tails are long and are quite pointed and are black and rounded. Common cuckoos loiter in gardens, moors, heaths, open wooded areas and steppe forests and also in coniferous and deciduous forests as their habitat.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What an interesting bird! I had never known how they laid their eggs in other birds nests and are then "adopted" by the other birds as their own to be fed and nurtured. Amazing! Thanks for the lesson. Voted up, useful + interesting. Happy New Year!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      8 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      This is an interesting bird that I am not yet acquainted with. Thanks for the good information. Here in North America, the cowbird is a parasitic bird.

    • aziza786 profile imageAUTHOR

      Zia Uddin 

      8 years ago from UK

      I love the common cuckoo as well. I even have a cuckoo clock. Thanks for taking the time to read my hub, really appreciate it.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      8 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I love the common Cuckoo.. excellent work.. I have to share this.. everyone needs to read this

      Happy new year



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)