Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Little Bronze-cuckoo (Chalcites minutillus)


French: Coucou menu German: Kleiner Bronzekuckuck Spanish: Cuclillo menudo

Chrysococcyx minutillus


, 1859,

Port Essington, Northern Territory, Australia


Formerly known as C. malayanus, but type of that name is, in fact, a female Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus. C. minutillus (sensu stricto) considered to be most closely related to C. meyerii#R. Internal taxonomy of present species confused; has been considered to constitute five species#R, a treatment fairly widely followed#R#R#R, but songs of all forms, where known, are apparently identical. While forms listed are generally allopatric, and all use the same type of host species, the apparent occurrence of two forms (cleis, aheneus) in Borneo suggests possible separate species status: poecilurus group (aheneus, jungei, poecilurus, misoriensis, russatus and undescribed race from Timor) sometimes treated as a species distinct from minutillus group (peninsularis, albifrons, cleis, minutillus and barnardi) owing to apparent sympatry without interbreeding in Borneo, but this may involve migrant birds, and representatives of both groups (russatus and barnardi) interbreed extensively in N Australia. Moreover, the geographical breakdown of these “species” is improbable (e.g. birds of minutillus group in N Borneo, all the Moluccas and W Lesser Sundas; birds of poecilurus group in Philippines, Sulawesi, Flores and New Guinea). Form rufomerus often treated as a separate species, but reported as intergrading with minutillus on five of its six known islands#R, which would seem to render the specific separation of the taxon unworkable. Form crassirostris often treated as conspecific with C. minutillus, but here split off as a separate species with race salvadorii (see that species). In addition, in Borneo, cleis (described from NE Kalimantan) appears to split the range of aheneus (described from S Kalimantan, but with range in SE Borneo and S Philippines); cleis is, therefore, sometimes synonymized with aheneus#R#R. The species composition and relationships of this entire group of taxa, including C. crassirostris, are still under revision#R; in a recent molecular study, barnardi found to be genetically the most distinct taxon#R. Eleven subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. m. peninsularis (S. A. Parker, 1981) – extreme S Indochina, S Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia.
  • C. m. albifrons Junge, 1938 – Sumatra and W Java.
  • C. m. cleis (S. A. Parker, 1981) – N & E Borneo.
  • C. m. minutillus (Gould, 1859) – Little Bronze-cuckoo – Moluccas, W Lesser Sundas and N Australia, from Kimberley district of NW Australia through Melville I and Arnhem Land to N Queensland (Gulf of Carpentaria to W Cape York).
  • C. m. barnardi (Mathews, 1912) – E Australia (SE Queensland to NE New South Wales).
  • C. m. rufomerus (E. J. O. Hartert, 1900) – Dark-backed Bronze-cuckoo – E Lesser Sundas (Romang, Damar, Kisar, Leti, Moa, Sermata).
  • C. m. aheneus Junge, 1938 – SE Borneo and S Philippines.
  • C. m. jungei Stresemann, 1938 – Sulawesi, Madu (S of Sulawesi) and WC Lesser Sundas (Flores).
  • C. m. poecilurus (G. R. Gray, 1862) – Gould's Bronze-cuckoo – lowlands on N & S coasts of New Guinea, and offshore islands, including W Papuan Is (Misool).
  • C. m. misoriensis (Salvadori, 1876) – Biak I (Geelvink Bay).
  • C. m. russatus (Gould, 1868) – N & E Queensland (Cape York S along E coast).
  • Also present on Timor, where an apparently distinctive race, as yet undescribed, occurs.

    Descriptive notes

    15–17 cm; 14·5–17 g, 16·9–21 g (russatus). Adult male minutillus bronze-green above, white forehead, white above eye, bright... read more


    Usually calls from high, exposed perch. In russatus, a thin whistled descending and... read more


    Lowland forest and forest edge, monsoon forest, honeymyrtle (Melaleuca) swamp forest,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, mainly arboreal caterpillarsAdult with prey (Hesperiidae), also beetles (Coccinellidae), ladybirds, ants, bees, sawfly larvae and... read more


    In Malaysia eggs in Mar and Aug; breeds Oct–Nov in E Queensland, Sept–Feb in N Queensland, Nov–Mar in Northern Territory... read more


    Partial migrant in Australia, where observed moving across Torres Strait, with records referred to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). In Australia, appears to be locally common to fairly common, but its occurrence is somewhat erratic; in Northern Territory, race ... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R., de Juana, E. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Little Bronze-cuckoo (Chalcites minutillus). 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).