Cuckoo Facts



  • The greater roadrunner, which is a type of cuckoo, can move at a speed of 20 km/h or more on land.
  • The Eurasian cuckoo is a ‘brood parasite’ – it lays its eggs in the nests of other birds.
  • Most birds take several minutes to lay an egg, but the cuckoo lays one in just nine seconds, so it can quickly take advantage of any brief absence of the host bird.
  • Of the 129 or so species of cuckoo, only about 50 lay their eggs in other birds’ nests.
  • The 60-cm long hoatzin (there is only one species) lives deep in South America’s rainforest.
  • Hoatzin chicks leave the nest soon after hatching. Two little claws on each wing help them clamber about.
  • The 22 species of turaco live only in Africa. Largest is the 90-cm long great blue turaco.
  • Turacos feed mostly on fruit, leaves and flowers, but also catch some insects in the breeding season.
  • Amazingly, the eggs of brood parasite cuckoos vary in color and markings according to the host they use. A Eurasian cuckoo’s eggs may resemble those of reed warblers, garden warblers or redstarts.
  • The Australian koel prefers fruit to the caterpillars and other creatures eaten by other cuckoos.