Common Cuckoo

Common Cuckoo / Cuculus canorus / وقواق شائع

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Status: Uncommon

Systematic : Cuculiformes order, Cuculidae family.

Physical characteristics: Length: 31-36 cms. Weight: 90-130 grams The Common Cuckoo is a medium-sized slender bird with a long (17 cm.), rounded tail and pointed wings.

In the male, the throat, head and upperparts are gray. The abdomen is white with black, thin, horizontal streaks and the eye is yellow.

When perched, it is often seen with wings drooping and tail slightly raised. In flight the cuckoo resembles the sparrowhawk, but can be distinguished from it by the pointed wings and shallow wing strokes.

The female has two morphs: the gray morph differs from the male's appearance in the beige color of the abdomen. In the rusty morph the head, throat and upper parts are brown with black streaks. It has a characteristic flight with shallow wing strokes that don't rise above the level of the body and a tail that is level with the back.

Habitat: The cuckoo can be found in a variety of habitats from woods, sparse forests, to scrubland.

Vocalization: The cuckoo is named for the sound it makes, mostly as a claim for territory.

Breeding: Like the many other members of the family, the cuckoo lays her eggs in the nests of other birds, a behavior called brood parasitism. When the host bird lays its eggs, the cuckoo will immediately lay an egg in the nest and take off with one egg of the host bird, eating it or disposing of it.

The fact that the eggs are incubated and raised by another bird is a great conservation of energy in brooding, however the cuckoo expends a lot of energy laying eggs in many different nests (as many as 12 eggs in 12 different nests). This is a means of dispersing the risk. On the other hand, the fates of its eggs are in the hands of unknown strangers which may discard the egg or abandon the nest if they discover the switch. If the switch is not discovered, the cuckoo nestling will roll the hosts' eggs out of the nest with its back immediately after hatching.

This is considered to be an evolutionary arms race, as the hosts have to learn to identify the cuckoos' eggs and the cuckoo has to learn to avoid detection. Winning the "race" is a matter of survival. The cuckoo egg is identified by its coloring or the order of the eggs in the nest. The cuckoo is able to lay eggs that are of a similar color to the hosts' eggs, but some birds are still able to identify them. Some birds will continue to incubate eggs that are very different from their own. As the hosting birds are usually smaller song birds, the cuckoo nestling is unproportionally large. After a time, the host is seen standing on the head of the chick feeding insects to a much larger nestling.

World distribution: The cuckoo is common in most of the paleoarctic, from Spain and the British Isles in the west, North Africa in the south and Scandinavia in the north through to Japan in the east. It is also common in the Mediterranean area and the Levant, from Turkey through Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, to Iran. All the populations are migratory with central Africa as the major destination, however some migrate to Indochina.

In Palestine Cukoos can be found nesting in all Mediterranean and semi desert habitats. The parasite mainly Scrub Warblers and Long billed Pipits. There are 4 subspecies of which two are seen in this area.

International conservation status: LC

Regional conservation status: NT