Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Red-chested Cuckoo (Cuculus solitarius)


French: Coucou solitaire German: Einsiedlerkuckuck Spanish: Cuco solitario

Cuculus solitarius


, 1815,

eastern Cape Province, South Africa


Population on Bioko, off Cameroon, sometimes separated as race magnirostris on account of larger bill, but shows no other differences from those elsewhere and probably does not merit recognition. Monotypic.


Senegal E through Nigeria to South Sudan and Ethiopia, and S through DRCongo, Angola, Zambia, NE Namibia (Caprivi Strip), N Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to S South Africa; also Bioko (in Gulf of Guinea). Recorded also in SE Niger#R.

Descriptive notes

31 cm; 75 g. Adult male dark grey above, tail tipped white; chin grey, breast rufous (often dark-barred), upper belly barred black and white, undertail-coverts unbarred... read more


Loud, emphatic three-note song, dropping in pitch, “piet-my-vrow!” or “IT-will-... read more


Forest, open woodland, riparian woodland, thorn scrub, and in montane areas to 3000 m. A forest... read more

Food and feeding

Insects, mainly hairy caterpillars, also beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, slugs, centipedes, millipedes, snails; also small frogs and... read more


Breeds in early rains: calls in S Senegal and Gambia in Jun–Aug; breeds Mar–May in E Africa (varies with rains), possibly Apr-... read more


Intra-African migrant. Migratory in S part of range, arriving in Malawi and S Africa in Sept and... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Generally common in forests and woodlands throughout extensive range. Apparently widespread and common in much of E Africa, and a common summer... read more

Recommended citation

Payne, R. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Red-chested Cuckoo (Cuculus solitarius). 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).