Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Green-billed Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus tristis)


French: Malcoha sombre German: Großer Grünschnabelkuckuck Spanish: Malcoha sombrío
Other common names: Long-tailed Malkoha

Melias tristis


, 1830,

Sumatra; error = Bengal, India


Sometimes combined with P. viridirostris, P. diardi and P. sumatranus in genus Rhopodytes. Most races are poorly differentiated; some authors recognize only nominate and kangeangensis, treating saliens, hainanus, longicaudatus and elongatus as synonyms of nominate#R. Six subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. t. tristis (Lesson, 1830) – N India from outer Himalayas (to 1800 m) and Kumaon E through Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan to Assam and Bangladesh, S to Madhya Pradesh.
  • P. t. saliens (Mayr, 1938) – N Myanmar, N Thailand, N Indochina and S China (Yunnan, Guangxi and Guangdong).
  • P. t. hainanus (E. J. O. Hartert, 1910) – Hainan I.
  • P. t. longicaudatus Blyth, 1841 – S Myanmar, S Thailand and S Indochina to Peninsular Malaysia.
  • P. t. elongatus S. Müller, 1836 – Sumatra.
  • P. t. kangeangensis (Vorderman, 1893) – Kangean Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    50–60 cm; 114–116 g (nominate), 100–128 g (kangeangensis). Adult tristis dark grey with green gloss above, oily green wings and tail, tail... read more


    A clucking and croaking frog-like call, “ko, ko, ko, ko”, sometimes ending with a run... read more


    Primary forest, second growth, dense thickets, scrub, cultivated areas, rubber plantations, hill... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, large caterpillars, Orthoptera, also lizards. Feeds in dense foliage in thickets and trees.


    Breeds Apr–Aug in India, May in Nepal, Mar–Sept in Myanmar, Jan–Mar in Peninsular Malaysia; young bird being fed by... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common or very common resident throughout much of its expansive range. Said to be fairly common in Nepal up to 700 m, but uncommon at higher... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2020). Green-billed Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus tristis). 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 28 January 2020).