Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Jacobin Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus)


French: Coucou jacobin German: Jakobinerkuckuck Spanish: Críalo blanquinegro
Other common names: Pied Cuckoo

Cuculus Jacobinus


, 1783,

Coromandel Coast, south-east India


This species and C. levaillantii sometimes placed in separate genus Oxylophus, owing to differences from present congeners in plumage and wing shape. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. j. pica (Hemprich & Ehrenberg, 1833) – sub-Saharan Africa S to Tanzania and Zambia, and NW India to Nepal and Myanmar, occasionally S Tibet, in foothills of Mt Everest.
  • C. j. serratus (Sparrman, 1786) – S Africa (S from S Zambia).
  • C. j. jacobinus (Boddaert, 1783) – S India and Sri Lanka; partially migrant to SE Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    31–34 cm; 66 g (India), 69·2–104 g (serratus). Adult glossy black above with black crest, white patch on black wings and white tips to black tail... read more


    Loud ringing “kleeuw, kleeuw, kleeuw”, each note descending, repeated in series, by... read more


    Open woodland and scrub, dry thorn savanna, thorny jungle, plains. In India mainly in lowlands,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, mainly hairy caterpillars, also grasshoppers, mantids, termites; forest snails; eggs of host birds; berries. Feeds mainly in trees... read more


    Breeds in rains: in N India Jun–Aug, and in S Nilgiris Jan–Mar; in W Africa May–Jul; in Ethiopia Mar–Oct; in E... read more


    An intra-African migrant in N and S, arriving on breeding grounds with rains and abundance of... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Reported to be generally common, or at least not uncommon, throughout much of its extensive breeding range, e.g. common in parts of S... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. & de Juana, E. (2020). Jacobin Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus). 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 21 January 2020).