Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius)


French: Coucou geai German: Häherkuckuck Spanish: Críalo europeo

Cuculus glandarius


, 1758,

northern Africa and southern Europe = Gibraltar


Birds from S Africa described as race choragium, supposedly smaller than others, but those breeding there overlap considerably in size with breeding birds in Mediterranean zone, and are not distinguishable. Monotypic.


Iberian Peninsula, S France, W Italy, Croatia, SE Bulgaria, NE Greece and locally S Morocco (Souss and Western High Atlas and Anti-Atlas areas#R); Turkey and Cyprus E to N Iraq and W Iran, and S through Middle East to Egypt; also sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal and Liberia E to Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, N Somalia and Kenya, and S to Tanzania, Angola and South Africa. Mostly winters in Africa; regular in small numbers in S Spain.

Descriptive notes

35–39 cm; 124 g. Adult dusky brown above with white feather tips, flight-feathers grey-brown, tail tipped white, crown grey with slight crest, face blackish; throat... read more


Harsh guttural “gah-gah-gah...gak-gak-gak...ko-ko-ko-ko”, the series falling in pitch... read more


Semi-arid open woodland, especially acacia thorn-scrub, also other scrub, rocky hillsides in dry... read more

Food and feeding

Insects, mainly large hairy caterpillars, also termites, grasshoppers, moths and small lizards; dresses caterpillars by removing hairs... read more


Breeding season late Apr to early Jun in Mediterranean; in Africa, breeds Mar in Egypt, Apr–May in Senegal and Sierra Leone, Apr... read more


Adults leave breeding area in Spain in mid Jun, juveniles leave between early Jul and early Aug... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally uncommon throughout most of its range, but conspicuous where it does occur. About 500 pairs estimated to breed in Israel/... read more

Recommended citation

Payne, R. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius). 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).