Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Grey-bellied Cuckoo (Cacomantis passerinus)


French: Coucou à tête grise German: Graubauchkuckuck Spanish: Cuco pechigrís
Other common names: Indian Plaintive Cuckoo

Cuculus passerinus


, 1797,



Often considered conspecific with C. merulinus, as their “songs… are the same, their juvenile plumages are similar, and the host species of passerinus appear to be the same as for races querulus and merulinus, indicating a similar ecological role too”. Subsequent consideration of acoustic and other evidence, however, indicates that passerinus is a separate species on account of all slaty-grey underparts vs yellowish-grey throat and breast switching to dull rufous belly (3); whitish-grey vs dull rufous thighs, vent and underwing-coverts (3); strongly different songs#R#R (assume 3); moreover, a narrow hybrid zone exists (2). Monotypic.


Himalayas of N Pakistan and N India E to Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, W Assam and N Bangladesh, and S through peninsular India to Nilgiris and Wayanad (Kerala); winters S to Sri Lanka.

Descriptive notes

18–22 cm. Adult dark grey above, lightly glossed green, tail blackish with white tip; chin to breast dark grey, belly and undertail-coverts whitish or grey; rare type all... read more


Calls mostly at dusk and dawn, and during first part of night, usually from regularly-used perch... read more


Inhabits open woodland (including subtropical pine forest in Pakistan), secondary forest, scrubby... read more

Food and feeding

Diet apparently mostly caterpillars, especially hairy species (e.g. the moth Dysdercus cingulatus) which may be shaken intensely... read more


Breeds Mar–Sept in Pakistan, and is most vocal mid Apr to mid Jun in Bhutan, Apr–Jun in E Ghats and Aug–Oct in Nilgiris, India; feathered... read more


Generally resident in S of range and seasonally migratory in N (Himalayas), but also stated to be... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common over most of range, in India (except drier montane regions). In Nepal, frequent in summer at lower altitudes. In Sri Lanka,... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Grey-bellied Cuckoo (Cacomantis passerinus). 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 13 December 2019).