Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

African Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx cupreus)


French: Coucou foliotocol German: Smaragdkuckuck Spanish: Cuclillo esmeralda africano

Cuculus cupreus


, 1792,



Thought to be part of a clade that contains also C. flavigularis, C. klaas and C. caprius#R. Sometimes treated as polytypic on basis of length of tail and wing, with tail shorter on São Tomé, Príncipe and Pagalu (insularum), intermediate on Bioko (intermedius), longer in most of continental Africa (cupreus) and short in S Africa (sharpei), and on markings on undertail-coverts, but considerable overlap in these traits is evident from one region to another. Treated as monotypic.


Sub-Saharan Africa from Gambia and S Senegal to South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, S to N Angola and E South Africa; also Gulf of Guinea islands.

Descriptive notes

20 cm; 38 g. Adult male brilliant iridescent green above, head and breast green, belly yellow; eye-ring blue, iris brown, bill green, slaty below, feet bluish. Female barred... read more


Song a clear 4-part slurred whistle, “hello, Ju-dy”, the second note low in pitch, the... read more


Forest, seasonal miombo (Bra­chystegia) woodland, savanna woodland, secondary growth,... read more

Food and feeding

Insects, mainly hairy caterpillars (e.g. Agathodes tomensis on São Tomé), also beetle grubs, grasshoppers,... read more


Breeds in rains, mainly Sept–Nov in S Africa, in long rains (when hosts breed) in Kenya, in Sept–Mar in Gabon. Brood-parasitic... read more


Seasonal migrant in S Africa, some remaining in dry season, when silent and difficult to observe;... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Fairly common; infrequently observed when high in dense foliage, but conspicuous when singing. Reported to be common in parts of S Africa. In late... read more

Recommended citation

Payne, R. (2020). African Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx cupreus). 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 25 February 2020).