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Common name Great spotted cuckoo
Scientific name Clamator glandarius
Type Shrubland birds
Status Migrator

Medium-sized bird (about 40 cm or 15.5 in) very similar to the Common Cuckoo, although with a longer tail, different colouring and more slender. Back of greyish brown colour dotted with white spots, also present on the wings. White underparts, yellowish ocher throat. On the head it has a silver grey cap and a small crest of erectile feathers. Red eye ring. Juveniles exhibit in flight a showy reddish colour due to the tone of the feathers of the wings.



Where it lives

Parasitic species of corvids, especially of the magpie, with which these cuckoos share habitat preferences. Open areas with scattered trees and farmlands, copses, pastures and mosaic agricultural landscapes.

How it lives

Summer species in Malaga, also present in migratory passage. This bird carries out an annual laying of up to 25 eggs (usually 15 to 16) in April, synchronizing with the reproductive cycle of its host. It does not build its own nest. Parasite habits. This cuckoo is a parasite of the Eurasian and Iberian magpies, Carrion Crow, Western Jackdaw, Red-Billed Chough, Eurasian Hoopoe and Eurasian Jay. It lays 1 to 3 eggs in nests of different hosts. Insectivore specialized in caterpillars, including very toxic ones such as the Pine Processionary.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

Although in migratory passage the Great Spotted Cuckoo can be watched almost anywhere in the province, as a summer species it is present in the regions of Antequera, Guadalteba and in the northeastern region of the province. In the Great Path it can be observed in stages 11, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 17. El Soto del Genil (Cuevas Bajas-Cuevas de San Marcos) is an optimal area to try to watch it. As a breeder, this bird has also been observed in Sierra Alpujata (Mijas), Sierra de las Apretaderas (Benahavís) and in the surroundings of Peñón del Cuervo (Málaga).

Curious facts

The parasite behaviour of the Great Spotted Cuckoo is very elaborate. Males are able to distract the couple of magpies so that the female can take advantage and put the eggs in someone else's nest. Once done the couple of great spotted cuckoos watches from a distance. If they see that the magpie discovers the trap and throws the strange eggs, they go to the nest to peck the rest of the eggs of the magpie. This vengeful behaviour is very unusual among birds. The chicks of Great Spotted Cuckoo, unlike those of the Common Cuckoo, do not expel from the nest the chickens of their host, but compete with them for food. Often the chicks die crushed by the greater weight of their adoptive siblings or of hunger before the greater capacity of these to monopolize the food.

Similar birds
Wintering Summer Resident Migration