Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Pallid Cuckoo (Heteroscenes pallidus)


French: Coucou pâle German: Blasskuckuck Spanish: Cuco pálido

Columba pallida


, 1801,

New South Wales, Australia


Considered by some authorities to be intermediate in form between genera Cacomantis and Cuculus. Populations of W & N Australia sometimes separated as subspecies occidentalis. Monotypic.


Australia and Tasmania. Winters N to Wallacea.

Descriptive notes

31–32 cm; 82 g. Adult grey above, broad pale supercilium, darker grey line through eye, pale nape patch, outer tail barred white; pale grey below, not barred; eye-ring... read more


Male's song an 8-note whistle on ascending scale (second note lower); female a hoarse whistle. read more


Open forests, woodlands, scrub, spinifex plains, mangroves, gardens; most numerous in drier country... read more

Food and feeding

Insects, mainly grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars and other larvae. Food taken in trees or on the ground.


Breeds Mar–Jun and Sept in N, Aug–Oct in SW Western Australia, Sept–Dec in E Australia. Adult male courtship-feeds female... read more


Resident, migratory, or with erratic movements in most of Australia, where many birds overwinter.... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Widespread and common, at least locally, though some variation in numbers. This species seems reasonably adaptable, since it occurs in residential... read more

Recommended citation

Payne, R. (2020). Pallid Cuckoo (Heteroscenes pallidus). 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 25 February 2020).