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Great spotted cuckoo

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Title: Great spotted cuckoo  
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Subject: Brood parasite, Cuckoo, Clamator, Brood parasites, Sympatry
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Great spotted cuckoo

Great spotted cuckoo
From Etosha National Park
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Cuculiformes
Family: Cuculidae
Genus: Clamator
Species: C. glandarius
Binomial name
Clamator glandarius
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The great spotted cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes, which also includes the roadrunners, the anis and the coucals.

It is a widespread summer migrant to southeast and southwest Europe and western Asia, and winters in Africa. It is a brood parasite, which lays its eggs in the nests of corvids (especially magpies), and starlings.


  • Chicks 1
  • Adults 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

Unlike the common cuckoo, neither the hen nor the hatched chick of this species evict the host's eggs, but the young magpies often die because they cannot compete successfully with the cuckoo for food. However it has been proved that this species' chicks secrete a repellent scent when predators threaten. The repellent protects great spotted cuckoo chicks themselves as well as the host's chicks from predators.[2] Carrion crow (Corvus corone corone) chicks survive better if a great spotted cuckoo chick shares their nest. Birds of prey and feral cats less frequently predate crow's nests that include a great spotted cuckoo chick. Crow chicks benefit only when predators are very active; when there is less predation, losing food to great spotted cuckoo chicks harms the crow chicks without compensation.[3][4]


This species is slightly larger than the common cuckoo at 35–39 cm length, but looks much larger with its broad wings and long narrow tail. The adult is grey above with a slender body, long tail and strong legs. It has a grey cap, grey wings, a yellowish face and upper breast, and white underparts. Sexes are similar. The juveniles have blackish upperparts and cap, and chestnut primary wing feathers. This species has a magpie-like flight.

It is a bird of warm open country with trees. Its food is insects, spiders, small reptiles and hairy caterpillars, which are distasteful to many birds, are a specialty.

The great spotted cuckoo's call is a loud cher-cher-kri-kri and variations.


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Great Spotted Cuckoo proved to protect invaded nests. (2014-03-21). Retrieved on 2014-05-06.
  3. ^ Smelly cuckoos protect hosts' chicks from predators. (2014-03-20). Retrieved on 2014-05-06.
  4. ^ The Stinky Way Cuckoo Birds Earn Their Keep. (2014-03-20). Retrieved on 2014-05-06.

External links

  • Great spotted cuckoo - Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds.
  • Oiseaux Photographs, text, map (French)
  • ADW: Clamator glandarius: Information
  • Ageing and sexing (PDF; 1.7 MB) by Javier Blasco-Zumeta & Gerd-Michael Heinze
  • IBC Nine videos.
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