Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Northern Hawk-cuckoo (Hierococcyx hyperythrus)


French: Coucou de Chine German: Rostbauch-Fluchtkuckuck Spanish: Cuco ventrirrojo
Other common names: Rufous Hawk-cuckoo

Cuculus hyperythrus


, 1856,

China = Shanghai


Formerly treated, with H. nisicolor, as a subspecies of H. fugax, but recently split#R, with support from subsequent workers#R#R, on basis of strong vocal differences from both H. nisicolor and H. fugax (at least 3); longer wing (effect size 2.76 vs nisicolor, 3.4 vs fugax) (2); rufous breast (a) paler and unstreaked vs nisicolor (2) and (b) quite unlike buffy-white breast with blackish-brown streaks of fugax (3). Monotypic.


NE China, Ussuriland and Sakhalin, and S to Korea, Japan and SE China; winters S to Borneo.

Descriptive notes

28–30 cm; 92·5–147·8 g. A smallish hawk-cuckoo; adult generally slate-grey above, including cheeks and chin, with narrow whitish vertical stripe from base of bill (sometimes... read more


Most vocal during periods of overcast weather, drizzly conditions or at twilight. Far-carrying long... read more


Occurs in broadleaf evergreen, semi-evergreen and deciduous forests, including secondary areas,... read more

Food and feeding

Diet principally insectivorous, especially caterpillars, including silkworms and larvae of hawk-moths, but also sawfly larvae (... read more


Season is May–Aug in Japan and probably late May–Jul in South Korea. Brood-parasite, known to lay eggs in nests of the following species in... read more


Summer visitor to breeding range, but both resident and a winter visitor to S Chinese provinces of... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Considered to be rare or uncommon over most of its range, especially in winter (see Movements), being generally uncommon in Japan in summer, although... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Northern Hawk-cuckoo (Hierococcyx hyperythrus). 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 8 December 2019).