Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

African Cuckoo (Cuculus gularis)


French: Coucou africain German: Afrikanerkuckuck Spanish: Cuco barbiblanco
Other common names: African Grey Cuckoo

Cuculus gularis


, 1815,

Camdeboo, Eastern Cape, South Africa


Closely related to C. canorus, with which formerly considered conspecific. Recent mtDNA study, however, suggests that present species is closer to C. rochii, the two being a sister-clade to C. canorus and C. saturatus#R. Monotypic.


Senegal and Gambia E through N Nigeria to S Sudan, Eritrea, NW Somalia, and S to Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and E South Africa. Mainly a non-breeding migrant in E Africa.

Descriptive notes

32 cm; 110 g. Adult dark ashy-grey above; tail dark grey with blackish barring, white tip, outer feathers barred white; chin to breast ashy-grey, rest of underparts white... read more


Male song a loud burry “coo-coó”, second note slightly higher and louder; female... read more


Open woodland, acacia savanna; avoids dense evergreen forest and arid regions.

Food and feeding

Insects, mainly caterpillars. Forages through foliage, and also takes food on ground.


Breeds in rains, Jan–Jun in coastal Ghana, Feb–Apr in Nigeria, Aug–Nov in Kenya, Sept–Dec in S Africa. Brood-... read more


Intra-African migrant. Arrives with the rains, sings and breeds during rainy season, then... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Fairly common in general throughout its sizeable range, though no precise figures available; locally common in some parts, notably in S Africa, but... read more

Recommended citation

Payne, R. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). African Cuckoo (Cuculus gularis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 February 2020).