Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Sunda Cuckoo (Cuculus lepidus)


French: Coucou de la Sonde German: Sundakuckuck Spanish: Cuco de la Sonda
Other common names: Sunda Lesser Cuckoo

Cuculus lepidus

S. Müller

, 1845,



Has been included in C. poliocephalus and more recently in C. saturatus, but split from latter (using published diagnosis and measurements#R) on account of smaller size (effect size for wing length –5.66; score 3); slightly darker grey coloration above (1); rich buff (usually plain) vs pale (usually barred) undertail-coverts (1); thicker dark bars on underparts (1); higher-pitched territorial song with usually three notes rather than four (2). Bornean population formerly recognized as a distinct subspecies, insulindae, but considered indistinguishable from populations in Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Java. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra (and satellite islands), Borneo, Java, Bali, Lesser Sundas (Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Pantar, Sumba, Timor) and Moluccas (Seram).

Descriptive notes

29–30 cm. Adult male is mostly dark grey above, with dark ash-grey wings and white-barred blackish tail, has grey chin to breast, rest of underparts white barred blackish,... read more


Similar to, but higher-pitched than, formerly conspecific C. saturatus and usually 2–3,... read more


Primary and secondary forests, mainly in montane regions, locally also in casuarinas in Lesser... read more

Food and feeding

Diet mainly insects, including many caterpillars (both hairy and hairless), as well as grasshoppers, crickets, cicadas, beetles, flies and... read more


Season (eggs) Feb–Jun in Peninsular Malaysia (where fledglings observed late Feb to late Jul), Apr–May (perhaps Jul) on Borneo (fledglings... read more


None recorded.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. The species is more or less common in Peninsular Malaysia, albeit range there is comparatively small (though not yet threatened by habitat... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Sunda Cuckoo (Cuculus lepidus). 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 7 December 2019).