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the web of life in southern Africa

Cuculus poliocephalus (Lesser cuckoo) 

Kleinkoekoek [Afrikaans]; Kleine Koekoek [Dutch]; Petit coucou [French]; Gackelkuckuck [German]; Cuco-pequeno [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Cuculiformes > Family: Cuculidae

Cuculus poliocephalus (Lesser cuckoo)   

Lesser cuckoo. [photo Hiromi Konishi ]


Distribution and habitat

Breeds from Afghanistan to Japan, heading south in the non-breeding season to India and south-central Africa, from southern Kenya to Malawi, southern DRC and Mozambique. Within southern Africa it is generally rare in central Mozambique and eastern Zimbabwe. It generally prefers dense savanna, tangled ravines and forest edges.

Distribution of Lesser cuckoo in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.